Sidney plans to spend about $10 million over the next 10 years on an improved network of sidewalks, cycling lanes, trails and other active-transportation upgrades.
Mayor Cliff McNeil-Smith said the town has made lots of improvements over several years, but the draft active transportation plan “commits significant investment” to improve accessibility, the town’s carbon footprint, road safety and livability.
“There’s quite a variety of initiatives in the plan, whether it’s various types of bike lanes or additional sidewalk and pathway improvements and intersection improvements,” said McNeil-Smith, adding members of the community have been asking for the changes.
The plan includes installing an average of 500 metres of new sidewalk each year, improving traffic signals, upgrading curb ramps to meet accessibility requirements, at least one cycling network improvement every year, adding more traffic-calming measures to support cycling boulevards, improving trail connections to the Lochside Regional Trail and creating more trails through and between parks.
In all, the plan has 56 action items that come with a price tag of about $1.2 million every year for the next decade.
McNeil-Smith said the town has been able to obtain grants to help with past projects and expects to be able to do the same over the next several years.
“There will be opportunities from time to time, from various granting agencies,” he said. “We’re always on the lookout for granting opportunities for community infrastructure, whether it’s recreation, active transportation or climate detection.”
In previous community engagement sessions on active transportation, residents complained about vehicle speed, lack of bicycle facilities and intersection concerns that were keeping people off their bikes.
Residents have cited the intersection of Beacon Avenue and the Pat Bay Highway as unsafe for those walking or cycling, and have asked for widening of town sidewalks, better lighting and better access to public washrooms.
McNeil-Smith said the town is looking for community feedback on the draft plan between now and March 17.
The active transportation plan, when finalized, will establish priorities and guide investment in infrastructure, as well as land development.
The first new infrastructure projects are expected to start in 2024.
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