Following lengthy debate, a plan to increase alternative transportation downtown was quashed on Tuesday.
The Downtown Transportation Choices Strategy has been referred back to the Development and Sustainability Committee.
During a committee of the whole meeting, council took issue with myriad aspects of the plan — from engagement directing its creation to findings — in voting against adoption in 5-4 decision.
In favour were councillors Arjun Singh, Sadie Hunter, Dieter Dudy and Kathy Sinclair. Opposed were Mayor Ken Christian and councillors Mike O’Reilly, Dale Bass, Bill Sarai and Denis Walsh.
O’Reilly said the strategy had too many gaps, while multiple councillors took issue with who was consulted to inform the strategy. Council had previously directed staff to conduct further engagement and the city did so through the fall — but the extent of that work did not appease council.
City staff had recommended 16 actionable items in the short-, medium- and long-term, geared at getting people out of their vehicles.
They included hiring a co-ordinator, implementing a travel program for city employees and a public bike-share program, providing workplace travel assistance, partnering with businesses and schools to increase bike racks, shifting toward a parking-management model (structuring parking fees based on demand) for city-owned facilities and integrating the strategy in city development bylaws.
“The strategy is intended to provide options and remove barriers for those who are looking for something different,” city engineering manager Deven Matkowski told council, explaining that, if well-implemented, the strategy would take vehicles off the road and get people around more efficiently.
Christian said too much focus is spent engaging residents at the Kamloops Regional Farmers’ Market, which could be seen as preaching to the choir.
Bass had similar concerns, maintaining neighbourhood associations outside of the city’s core were not given equal opportunity to weigh in on the issue. Bass noted not all residents in the city will be able to take alternative transportation, such as those on the outskirts who travel to work at a mine.
Another line in the strategy particularly perturbed Bass, one in which the city would be encouraging residents to reduce vehicular trips by shopping online.
"My second observation, and I really wish I had not read this because it made me stop and scream in my head, the reference to encouraging online shopping, how we should encourage people to not drive down to the store, but just buy everything online," Bass said. "I was pretty sure Coun. O’Reilly was probably screaming as well, and any other small business person in town. That language bothered me."
Noting council’s diversity of opinion, Sinclair advocated for the strategy, noting that while the city is “built for cars”, it would help to remove barriers for those already desiring to change how they travel, which was the intent of the strategy.
She said the plan would help to resolve parking issues and greenhouse gases.
“I think that we have so much work to do,” she said. “A 10 per cent goal is a good one to shoot for.”
Though he ultimately voted in favour, Singh took issue with the plan for other reasons entirely. It’s not ambitious enough, he said. With nearly 90 per cent of the people consulted in favour of alternative transportation options downtown, he said the city was not setting the goal high enough, with the goal of increasing trips to work by 10 per cent.
“That, to me, seems really, really unambitious,” Singh said.
The strategy cost the city $100,000 to create. The city last year increased its budget for alternative transportation infrastructure.
While the strategy has been sent back to the Development and Sustainability Committee. for review, the city still continues to work toward increasing alternative transportation.