A new project aims to make a stretch of Government Road safer for those on foot or wheels.
The District has received close to $173,000 from a provincial government Active Transportation grant, which aims to both rebuild British Columbia’s economy post-COVID-19 and help communities meet CleanBC climate goals.
The funds are being put toward the Government Road Multi-Use Path Project that will be accessible for all ages and abilities and connect to an existing pathway leading to Brackendale Elementary school, it was announced June 24.
“We are grateful to the province of B.C. for this funding which helps to further the District’s commitment to improving safety along our bikeways and pathways, especially along routes to school,” said Mayor Karen Elliott in an emailed statement to The Chief.
“Investing in active transportation has so many positive outcomes as it encourages our residents of all ages to be active, and supports our climate goals as safer routes encourage more residents to walk or cycle instead of driving. This particular route along Government Road will vastly improve safety for our young people attending Brackendale Elementary School and Don Ross Middle School.”
The work on the Squamish pathway is already underway, according to staff with the District, which applied for the funds for this trail and shares the cost of completing it.
“Squamish put forward a good proposal for a multi-use path… all ages and abilities which is another important thing for government. We want to make sure it is not just for the daily road racer who feels safe dodging cars,” said Spencer Chandra Herbert, MLA for Vancouver-West End who led the consultations on the province’s active transportation strategy, Move. Commute. Connect.
“We want to make sure the kid learning to ride a bike or somebody out for a walk feels safe along there as well.”
One change the provincial government made to this program was to look at projects that were beyond just ones for bike riders.
Previously, projects that made it better for cyclists were more likely to get the grants, Herbert said, but the criteria have been expanded.
“We know there are a lot of people getting around actively who don’t bike but might walk to school or walk to the store if they had a safer way to do that.”
Herbert also said that the provincial government is now picking up more of the cost for these projects for smaller communities.
“In the past, communities like Vancouver could afford to put up a lot of money to fund the project, which meant big projects got funded and we got great bikeways in Vancouver — but smaller communities and First Nations governments would not have as much money available because they had fewer people and so they got missed.”
The funding model this time around was rejigged, he said.
More than $1 million in Active Transportation Infrastructure grants have been awarded to three 2020-21 projects.
The District of North Vancouver was also approved to receive $500,000 for the Lynn Valley Road Active Transportation Project and Sechelt will receive $479,551 for the Wharf Avenue Sidewalk Improvements Project.