Imagine cycling and walking infrastructure that flow seamlessly through Kamloops. It could include Thompson Rivers University, connect neighbourhoods, provide viable commuting alternatives to driving and feature landmarks and points of interest.
“I don’t know what you would call it, but imagine a path that went from Crestline [Street in Brocklehurst] or the airport to Orchards Walk, from like Pacific Way to Westsyde, the Dunes, for example, and have this vision of this connected bicycle pathway or walking pathway that people could really have some ownership of and you could put displays of things, put little landmarks people could enjoy as you’re going around the community,” Coun. Arjun Singh said. “That’s sort of a grand vision component. This is saying that could really be built out into a really iconic community project.”
Singh wants 2021 to be declared the Year of the Cyclist and has presented a notice of motion calling on staff to cost out and come up with funding ideas for cycling projects to encourage alternative transportation in Kamloops.
Singh’s notice of motion, which will be debated on Jan. 12, calls specifically for administration to present budget options and operational costs to accomplish high and medium priorities in the city’s Transportation Master Plan within five years. It also calls for options for funding, including grant funding to be prioritized for such projects and consideration of a community fundraising campaign similar to that of the Rivers Trail.
Singh said the city’s high and medium priorities in its Transportation Master Plan will not be completed for 20 years. Meanwhile, he said transportation contributes two-thirds of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions.
“We really want to enable other ways for people to get around the community and make it as easy as possible,” he told KTW. “Then, if you add in the electric bike introduction in the last year or two, people really getting on those and being able to get further without sweat — it’s a pretty exciting opportunity for us to really encourage and enable people to want to do that and try it out.”
Singh pointed to a wall of donors and sponsors acknowledged on a plaque near Sandman Centre.
“Once upon a time, there was no Rivers Trail and that was built as a community project to try and connect Valleyview all the way to Westsyde, basically,” Singh said. “You have almost the whole way, a separated path.”
Singh said the Rivers Trail is a project of community pride and is well-utilized.
In addition, Singh wants to see an incentive program for e-bikes and education campaign launched to improve safety.
Asked if this it is the right time to focus on cycling, Singh said the pandemic has created an opportunity for community resilience. He pointed to decreased transit ridership amid the pandemic and desire to make healthier, lower-carbon transportation options more attractive. In addition, he expects funding from the provincial and federal government because of the pandemic.
“They’re thinking about how they can set us up for a better future,” Singh said.
Singh noted the city is grappling with multiple crises — not only the pandemic, but also a climate crisis. Author Margaret Atwood spoke at the Union of BC Municipalities conference in September and Singh reiterated a comment she made, noting stoves have two front burners.
“We can do these things in tandem as we go through,” Singh said. “We have to think about the future of the community.”
Coun. Kathy Sinclair told KTW she supports investment in active transportation to improve the health of the community, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and making pathways accessible to all road users.