New Active Transportation Plan completed

·2 min read

The City of Merritt has released their new Active Transportation Plan (ATP), which will create more avenues for residents to get around using human-powered transportation such as cycling, walking, skateboarding, rollerblading, wheelchairs and more.

Last year the Province provided the city with a $25,000 grant which was matched by the City of Merritt, to be used for the creation of an Active Transportation Plan. A Request for Proposals for the project was published on March 3, 2020. From the submitted proposals, staff selected Urban Systems to develop the plan.

Community engagement followed via a series of surveys which helped Urban Systems and the City determine which projects should be included in the plan.

Overall, 120 items are listed in the ATP implementation plan to be completed over the next ten years at a cost of roughly $33 million.

“The benefits of active transportation are myriad,” said Planning and Development Manager Don McArthur.

“From economic benefits like providing better access to shops downtown, health benefits of course from riding your bike or walking, the environmental benefits of reducing car emissions, societal, safety, community. Lots of things that we can look at and point to about why this is the way we should be moving as a community.”

McArthur notes that the projects will be very dependent on grant funding, with high priority infrastructure projects alone estimated to cost approximately $12 million. In addition to the cost of construction, operating costs will increase as new infrastructure is implemented. For example, a protected bicycle lane would have a capital cost of $1 million, and cost approximately $60,000 per km to operate and maintain.

A roadway adjacent multi-use trail, such as the one that runs along Voght St., would have a capital cost of $800,000 and year-round maintenance costs of $9,000 per km.

The suggested projects have been broken down into short, medium, and long-term priorities.

“Obviously we can’t do everything all at once, so we have to look at what are the most important items,” said McArthur, who explained to council that there was a large amount of grant funding currently available, but that there was no way to know if that would be the case over the entire cost of the plan’s implementation.

“The public was really great about providing good feedback on which routes would be most desirable.”

Grant applications have already been submitted for the West Merritt Active Transportation Path, and a Diamond Vale Neighbourhood Bikeway is currently being designed.

Residents and stakeholders were consulted throughout the development of the plan, as was the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. The plan will integrate with other city and regional plans, policies and initiatives and coordinate with transit and provincial projects.

The motion that mayor and council receive the Active Transportation Plan was carried unanimously with no debate.

Morgan Hampton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Merritt Herald