City politicians who have stood behind the defeated downtown transportation choices strategy, which aims to promote alternative transportation in the city’s core, are hoping their colleagues will take another look a the plan.
The development and sustainability committee voted on Monday afternoon to send action items outlined in that strategy back to council for approval. Those items include short-term tasks such as hiring a full-time co-ordinator (not a new hire, but tasks given to an existing city staffer) and long-term items like working with a service provider to launch a car-share service. The committee is also recommending council approve spending $25,000 this year on implementing the plan.
Coun. Arjun Singh chairs the committee, which was tasked with what he called “difficult” work in reviewing the strategy after council quashed it in a 5-4 vote during a December committee of the whole meeting.
Singh told KTW council had problems with the report and language in the strategy presented, including text that encouraged online shopping. He also noted conversation centred around “whether we hate or like drivers.” Singh wants to pivot focus toward the recommendations, which he believes council as a whole will get behind.
“I think it was a really challenging day for council that day, for a variety of reasons,” Singh said.
Another sticking point for council was the engagement process. For example, Mayor Ken Christian took issue with the city seeking input for alternative transportation downtown at the farmers’ market, where it would almost certainly already have a captive audience on the subject.
To that end, the committee on Monday voted to prioritize action items that focused on engagement and incentives.
The recommendations from the report are expected to come back to council at a regular meeting in the coming weeks. The complete list is as follows:
• Short-term: hire a full-time transportation choices co-ordinator, develop and rollout a transportation choices program for city employees, prepare a communications plan, continue to make improvements to walking, cycling and transit facilities and services including wayfinding, undertake community outreach and awareness, launch a ride-matching service, offer workplace travel program assistance;
• Medium-term: Undertake a bike rack inventory and funding partnerships with businesses and schools, enhance the safe schools/kids ride the bus programs, shift to a parking management model for city-owned facilities, implement a residential travel planning program to targeted neighbourhoods, further integrate transportation choices into development bylaws;
• Work with a service provider to launch a car-share service, work with a service provider to launch an ebike-share service, partner with organizations that provide services to facilitate more non-single-occupant vehicle trips, develop a recognition program for alternative transportation leaders.
All three councillors (Singh and councillors Sadie Hunter and Dieter Dudy) who voted Monday to support sending the recommendations back to council had in December voted in favour of the strategy.