Municipalities across B.C., including those on the Saanich Peninsula, can gear up plans to improve active transportation infrastructure with new government grant funds totalling $404,000.
Local governments with populations of at least 25,000 and proposals to improve biking, walking and other active transport infrastructure are now eligible for up to $20,000 from the expansion of the province’s Active Transportation Planning Grant.
To date, the grant has provided $16,865 to Central Saanich and $20,000 to both Sidney and the Southern Gulf Islands.
“Thanks to this funding from the province we are able to thoroughly integrate our active transportation planning into the Official Community Plan Review, which is now underway,” said Central Saanich Mayor Ryan Windsor, whose municipality was an advanced recipient of the new grant funding.
Central Saanich released its plan on July 28, including plans to incentivize active transport with improvements to crosswalks, schools zones and path network gaps.
“Increasing active transportation in Central Saanich is critical to realizing our climate action goals and it’s a priority for residents,” Windsor said.
The Southern Gulf Islands received $20,000 towards ongoing development of their active transportation plan, an integrated initiative shared between Mayne, Saturna, Galiano and North and South Pender islands.
“People like to take their bikes around the Gulf Islands. We do see a high amount of visitor demand for active transportation routing,” said Southern Gulf Islands service delivery manager Justine Starke.
She noted the islands’ smaller tax base hasn’t allowed them to improve road conditions or create separate lanes to mitigate vehicle and bicycle conflicts without assistance from the Ministry of Transportation, which is responsible for unincorporated area roads.
“So we’ll be looking for funding partnerships, and most certainly looking to infrastructure funding from other levels of government to be able to make the plan a reality,” Starke said.
The Southern Gulf Islands plan to introduce recommendations for their integrated transportation plan during the 2022 municipal election, which will include plans for integrated public transport and ferry services.
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