The intersection of Althamer Road and Highway 93/95 is no longer at a crossroads now that the fill is in and the flowers are planted. The Rotary Club of Invermere’s crossroads beautification project, which began last year in September, has transformed the turnoff to Invermere from an unsightly area of dirt patches and painted lines into a manicured roadside plant bed complete with curbs and sidewalks.
“The Ministry of Transportation (MOT) has been incredibly helpful,” Rotary member and crossroads project co-ordinator Rod Turnbull said. “When we approached them about doing it, they were really excited, they thought this was just a wonderful idea.”
Because the intersection is MOT — not District of Invermere — property, the rules and regulations around the project seemed to go on forever, but it was MOT Rocky Mountain district operations technician Stephanie Daniels who helped the project along by going over and above the call of duty, said Turnbull.
“This woman has been a jewel,” he said. “She has helped get through the bureaucratic hoops, which are huge, absolutely huge.”
As a result of Daniels’ efforts, not only did the MOT offer to take care of the sidewalk and curbing work, which was done last fall, but the ministry also supplied the fill and a loader to move it from a gravel pit in Windermere.
On Monday, May 7, the final stretch of the project began with VJ Bishop Excavating hauling the gravel fill from the pit to the crossroads site where Rotary volunteers waited with shovels.
“Butch Bishop from VJ Bishop Excavating was absolutely incredible,” said Turnbull. “He supplied us with four trucks and a loader operator to run [the MOT loader] in.”
Bishop also provided an operator to run the two skid-steers with different size buckets that were supplied by Home Hardware and Diesel and Dusk Contracting.
Top soil donated by Copper Ridge Golf Course and Windermere Water and Sewer was brought in Wednesday (May 9) by a front end loader and operator provided by Rona. When the ignition on the loader died halfway through the day, Max Helmer Construction provided a second one as backup while Bishop sent in another truck to prevent the project from falling behind schedule. Don Clowers with Club Towing donated all the flagging services throughout the week.
“We couldn’t have done it without their help,” said Turnbull. “It’s amazing how many people, how many companies in the community have stepped forward and said, ‘Hey we can do a little bit here, a little bit there.’”
After the landscape fabric was put in place on Friday (May 11), planting day was a Rotary Club group effort on Saturday (May 12) with planting guidelines and directions given by Elizabeth Shopland, a local horticulturalist and owner of Homefront Essentials Gardening. The 2,000 plants were purchased from Tipi Mountain Native Plants in Cranbrook.
“All the plants are zero-scape plants meaning they don’t have to be watered or looked after [beyond] the first year,” said Turnbull. “It’ll take two years before it looks really full.”
Placing the bark mulch, which was purchased very affordably from Winderberry Nursery, took place Monday (May 13).
“The only thing we haven’t managed to resolved yet is the watering,” said Turnbull, adding the club was waiting to hear back from the District of Invermere on that point.
“If this [project] was contracted out, it would be in excess of $50,000,” he noted. “When it’s all said and done, I think we’ll be at less than $20,000.”
All the project’s funding comes from the Rotary Club, “money raised through the community and given back to the community,” Turnbull said.
The highway crossroads beautification project is the first of two community initiatives which the Rotary Club of Invermere decided to undertake last year — the second being a waterpark, which is currently in the works.