Cobden – A proposed Active Transportation Plan (ATP) is being reviewed by Whitewater Region council with the caveat it can evolve with changing requirements.
“It’s a living document, not at all carved in stone,” CAO Robert Tremblay told council last Wednesday. “It shows how we look at walking, cycling, and just getting around in Whitewater Region.”
An overview of the plan was presented via video by Kimberley Hunton, Manager of Transportation Planning in the Ottawa office of the WSP engineering firm. The plan was developed in consultation with the Beachburg Off-Road Cycling Association (BORCA) and other interested groups. Residents of Whitewater were also encouraged to participate in an online survey and 219 responded.
“It’s a strategic plan, designed to be a blueprint for future development,” she said. “The aim is to give residents the ability to make choices to get into active transportation.”
She noted there are significant benefits to the environment, to the economy and tourism, to the community and social equity, and further to the health of those practicing active transportation.
“Travelling using an active mode assists individuals in meeting daily physical activity requirements and decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancers, bone and joint diseases, diabetes, and obesity,” it was stated in the plan.
Whitewater Region encompasses a land area of 540 square km and has a population of just over 7,000 with an average age of 43.5. At present a 35-km stretch of the 219-km Algonquin Trail, which runs from the District of Nipissing in the north to the City of Ottawa and County of Lanark in the south, passes through Whitewater Region. There are also 19 km off-road local trails, and there are 63 km of on-road facilities, primarily hardened paved shoulders on many County of Renfrew roads. There are 10 km of sidewalks within villages and hamlets.
The vision and goals of the ATP include designing a continuous and connected active transportation network with connections to key destinations such as schools, parks, trails, commercial areas, and community amenities; provide amenities that support active transportation, such as bike parking, water refill stations, and washrooms; and define programming and outreach initiatives that educate potential active transportation users, enhance the active transportation experience, and provide opportunities to engage the community in active transportation activities.
Ms. Hunton said the survey showed that one of the reasons given for not using active transportation options was the distances involved made it inconvenient.
“We need an education component that shows that with the right facilities, equipment and clothing, you can cycle for many reasons and it might make it more convenient,” she said.
Councillor Chris Olmstead said the presentation represents “a ton of work.”
“It takes a lot of vision to put this all together,” he said.
Councillor Neil Nicholson added the plan provides a framework for future development.
“I’m really excited for the next steps,” he said.
The plan will come back to council for discussion at its December 17 meeting.
Marie Zettler, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader