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Active Transportation Master Plan set to connect city

'We’re looking at Memorial Drive as a place to do a pilot project to put in a bike lane there, and test that idea, have people learn from it and see how it works, see how it feels' Jim Scott Trace Planning and Design

A year in the making, an Active Transportation Master Plan has been developed for the city of North Bay.

But it now requires the support of City Council before it can be implemented.  

Jim Scott of Trace Planning and Design calls the ATMP a road map for how residents want to see active transportation integrated into the city over the next 15 to 20 years.

Scott has been working with the North Bay Active Transportation Advisory Committee, community partners, city staff, and information gathered through public consultations to formulate his plan.

In the end, what the committee heard from residents was a desire for a plan that is “welcoming, legible and safe for all residents: inclusive of all ages and human-powered modes: accessible for people of all abilities; and integrated with public transit.”

The idea is to carry out projects that will connect neighbourhoods and various other areas of the city over the next 15 to 20 years based on council’s priorities, city budgets, and funding availability.

“Obviously 20 years, that is a reasonable way to look at this, but I think residents are very excited to see it happen much quicker than that. In fact, they would like to see it in a much shorter time frame, but as budgets become available the work will get done,” said Scott who suggested there are things that can be done in the short term.  

“There’s a few little trail connections that will really pull a lot of the city together. You have the Kinsmen Trail, you have the Kate Pace Way, wonderful, wonderful trail networks. So, we think there are three or four little trail projects there that we could actually almost double the catchment basin for those trails just by extending it across the highway, things like that,” suggested Scott.

“There are some promotional things to do. There is some exciting, active, get people out and about, type programs, things that get kids moving. There is a walking school bus, to get that program even richer and stronger.”

 And then there are some proposed test projects.

“We have a shoreline trail that needs a little bit of thought, and we want to begin to communicate the idea of a mixed-use street. So we’re looking at Memorial Drive as a place to do a pilot project to put in a bike lane there, and test that idea, have people learn from it and see how it works, see how it feels.”

In Scott’s opinion, North Bay is very advanced when it comes to active transportation.

“A lot of your activity culture is pretty high culture. There is a lot of people out biking on the roadways and streets now, the trails are very, very busy. If you’re on the Kate Pace Way almost any time of day, you’re going to see people scooting along. So you’re actually in pretty good condition in terms of activity. The shoreline views are beautiful, there are lots of great hills to get out and do some work, and there are lots of wonderful roadways that we want to connect out to areas like Callander,” says Scott.

“I think the idea of the network and expanding the network is really, just grab a couple pieces of a couple of neighbourhoods that need a little help getting connected to that, so they get to enjoy the same stuff as well.”

Paula McCloskey, manager Arts, Culture, Recreation, and Leisure Services, says the plan has already received funding assistance.

“Looking at the first section of this plan, we have been very fortunate to have received funding ($50,000) from the Ontario Municipal Commuter Cycling Program, to help us actually in covering the costs between the city and the health unit, and this program, covering 80 per cent of that,” said McCloskey.

“So, we’ve got funding to actually do the study to be where we are. But better than that, we also have funding from the same agency of the Commuter Cycling Program, to institute projects stemming from this plan. So, when we look at the projected costs for the first one to five years, that funding we actually already have, through that Commuter Recycling Program.”  

Efforts will be made to find additional funding.

“We’re going to proceed with the plan as budgets allow, and as we can afford to go forward, but we have a really good start and strong support with the Ontario Municipal Commuter Cycling Program in getting this going.”   

As someone who rides her bike for recreational purposes, city councillor and community services chair Johanne Brousseau says the plan will allow her to expand her trail use.

“For me, that is a win-win situation, that I will get fit as I am running errands and save money on gas. What impressed me the most is that the plan will be that we’re already taking infrastructure that is already existing and they’re going to be part of this network that is going to move people from Birchaven to the downtown core.”

Council will address the motion asking that it approve the plan, and direct staff to use it as a long term guide for future development of the plan’s initiatives, at the February 26 meeting of council.