“If you build it, they will come.”
That’s what David Reid, a senior landscape architect and planner with HB Lanarc, says about an $80,000 project to improve the multi-use pathway between Baview Avenue and Coronation Mall and get more people cycling in Ladysmith.
Reid and Town of Ladysmith planner Lisa Brinkman presented the project during a recent public information meeting.
This connector project from Bayview Avenue across Holland Creek to Coronation Mall to is one of the first phases of instituting the Ladysmith Bike Plan, explained Mayor Rob Hutchins.
“All across North America, communities are attempting to enhance and improve the non-vehicular accessibility in the community,” he said. “Our single-largest bike lane investment was the Chemainus highway, and when we did that $2.8-million expansion, part of the requirement of that upgrade was to put a bike lane … Our challenge is when we built that, we had no real safe connector to the rest of the community or along the highway.”
Now, with a Bike BC infrastructure funding grant worth $40,000, the town can make a connection at the south end of Ladysmith by improving the Bayview Connector.
This project will cost $80,000.The town is receiving $40,000 from Bike BC and applying $40,000 from Gas Tax funding. The town has also applied for a $10,000 grant through Tree Canada, which is linked with BC Hydro, for landscaping improvements.
The project includes constructing a new multi-use path on the grassy slope at the end of Bayview Avenue. The existing sidewalk will remain, and landscaping improvements are being proposed.
A sign will be installed on the bridge over Holland Creek to inform cyclists to dismount on the bridge.
“The middle section of the path will be as is primarily,” said Brinkman. “It’s a longer project to widen the bridge, so for now, we’ll have a sign on the bridge for cyclists to dismount.”
For the section of the path going along the Trans Canada Highway, the existing path will be widened, and landscaping improvements are proposed. The improved path will lead to North Davis Road, Coronation Mall and to the Chemainus Road multi-use pathway.
The goal is to complete the path improvements by May 31, according to Brinkman.
The Ladysmith Bike Plan was completed in 2009, and this section is the first priority as part of a much broader plan, explained Reid.
“As far as short-term implementation, the priorities that came out of the Bike Plan were Coronation Mall into downtown, so the Bayview Connector, and then Methuen Street, then Fourth or Sixth avenue,” he said. “The idea is to think of the early projects as pilot projects — can we do things that will improve the amount of cycling in Ladysmith and reduce greenhouse gases and improve people’s health and see how the early projects go and then adjust the plan over time.”
When town staff members looked at the Bicycle Plan and the three priority routes that were identified, they determined the Fourth Avenue and Sixth Avenue priorities involved quite a lot more than just a bike path, such as underground servicing, and the Methuen priority was similar in that it had underground servicing, explained Brinkman.
Bayview Avenue resident Rob Johnson questioned council’s decision to use the Bike BC grant on the Bayview Connector, as he doesn’t see many cyclists using the path, and he would rather see the money go toward a higher priority.
“Is it the best-spent $40,000?” he asked. “I would rather see money put into reserves so we have money for Fourth or Sixth.”
One condition of the Bike BC grant is that the money cannot be put into a reserve.
“The actual creation of the facility will increase demand,” said Reid. “If you build it, they will come. I think we all recognize Fourth and Sixth are the highest priorities, but the reason they are not here today is there are other things that need to be done.”
Other issues raised during the meeting included the safety of the bank along the pathway, concern about motorcycles or cars getting onto the path at Bayview Avenue and drainage concerns.