Construction will begin in September on a new 1.6 kilometre multi-use trail along the Trans-Canada Highway in North Cowichan.
The provincial government announced in March that the municipality was one of 26 communities across B.C. to be awarded funding to expand cycling lanes in over the next year.
North Cowichan’s grant of $472,311 grant will cover up to half of the cost to construct the trail, which will run from the end of the dike at the Somenos Marsh Outdoor Education Centre parking lot, north along the highway to the Cowichan Regional Visitor Centre and BC Forest Discovery Centre.
“As our community grows and becomes busier, building safe and walkable connections is so important,” said Mayor Jon Lefebure.
“This trail will give residents and visitors a safe way to walk and cycle between existing trails, transit services and community hubs like the Visitor Centre, Forest Discovery Centre, Beverly Corners, Cowichan Commons, and the future new Regional hospital.”
North Cowichan’s portion of the costs will be funded through the roads and sidewalks budget.
The project focuses on providing a safer connection for pedestrians and cyclists by removing them off the highway shoulder.
In a letter of support for the project, Cycle Cowichan directors Alan Philip and Rick Martinson also touched on the importance of safety.
“The proposed trail would enable a vital connection through this bottleneck, joining a trail network on the south to choices of routes to the north. This would give commuters a more direct, safe route, and connect tourists and recreational riders to popular tourist attractions.”
While the majority of the trail will be built within the highway right-of-way, an Environmental Protection Plan has been created to ensure that construction minimizes impacts to nearby environmentally sensitive areas, in particular the Somenos Marsh.
Archaeological consultants have also been brought onto the project team to provide advice throughout the construction phase.
The trail is the first project out of ten specific capital projects in the municipality’s five-year Bike Network Plan.
The BikeBC grant allows until March 2018 for the project to be completed.