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Westsyde multi-use path takes step forward

Grant could help connect Aberdeen to Westsyde

The city is hoping to secure grant funding to extend a multi-use path along Westsyde Road.

At last week’s meeting, council approved staff to apply for $500,000 through a provincial active transportation grant program. If successful, the grant would pay for half of the project cost, which is estimated at $1 million, and construction would begin next year.

The Westsyde Road multi-use path project involves creating a 430-metre long, 3.6-metre wide paved multi-use path along the west side of Westsyde Road between Westmount Drive and Batchelor Hills Drive, including intersection pavement markings, pathway lighting, pedestrian tactile surfaces and widened bus stop areas.

According to a city staff report, the project would complete a continuous active transportation route for cyclists, pedestrians and others from Aberdeen to Batchelor Heights and Westsyde.

The new path would extend an existing multi-use path that currently runs along the east side of Westsyde Road from Westmount elementary on Walkem Road to the intersection of Westmount Drive.

It would also provide access to planned bike routes on Westmount Road and Collingwood Drive and on Batchelor Hills Drive, connecting to the Rivers Trail.

At the July 20 council meeting, Coun. Denis Walsh expressed concern about lacking active transportation connectivity to Thompson Rivers University.

“The real void in our city bike plan is there’s no access to TRU and that’s probably the highest potential usage of biking, so I just worry we’re taking money that could be used to even build a section of that,” Walsh said, noting the city should focus on key arterial areas for biking.

Purvez Irani, the city’s transportation manager, told Walsh multi-use path access to TRU and McGill Road is identified in its Transportation Master Plan.

“It’s on the list of projects, it will be coming,” he said, adding the city expects to have the neighbourhood plan for the area completed within the next two years, including a multi-use path project.

Coun. Bill Sarai expressed concern over the future shared bike route snaking through the residential Westmount Drive and Collingwood Drive, where there are many vehicles in driveways that would need to pull out onto the street overtop of the bike lane.

Sarai asked if it would have been safer to place that bike path off the existing multi-use path on Walkem Road, where the school is, to connect to the Rivers Trail.

Irani said that would create a 1.7-kilometre detour for residents coming from Batchelor Hills Drive and, as local roads, the traffic volumes are low and considered safe levels for a bike lane based on national guidelines.

The deadline to submit a grant application for the Westsyde multi-use path is July 30. Under program requirements, the path would need to be completed by March 2023.

The municipality was also successful back in January securing active transportation grants for the Summit Drive multi-use pathway and Sixth Avenue bike lanes to the tune of $4 million.