Opposition puts pressure on P.E.I. government for active transportation

The Official Opposition on P.E.I. wants to know what the PC government is doing to encourage active transportation such as biking or walking.

During question period on Wednesday Green MLA Michele Beaton noted in 2012 the City of Charlottetown approved a multi-million dollar plan developed collaboratively by the communities of Charlottetown, Stratford and Cornwall, as well as the province.

"What work has been completed in the seven years since this report came out to address its recommendations?" Beaton asked.

Minister of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy Steven Myers said he's been in his current position for a matter of months, but has been working toward increasing active transportation on the Island since he was handed the file.

"I announced an active transportation fund, we are currently meeting with stakeholders and people of interest inside the active transportation realm," he said. "Getting their advice, getting their thoughts."

Legislative Assembly of P.E.I.

He said a number of things have been done through the department to look at active transportation not just in Charlottetown, but Island-wide.

"What we are doing going forward is creating an active transportation system right across Prince Edward Island, including rural areas," he said.

Bike lane on Hillsborough Bridge?

Beaton said sometimes recommendations tend to get lost in plans and reports that come out.

"In 2017 a commitment by the government was made to add a bike lane to the Hillsborough Bridge at the same time as the sewer renovations were done," she said.

Beaton said that commitment was made after the late Josh Underhay tabled a petition in the legislature that included 316 signatures.

"Can you explain why the promised bike lane was not included in the Hillsborough Bridge renovations that are currently underway?" Beaton asked.

Myers reiterated that he didn't become minister of transportation until 2019.

"When I came forward there was no money put forward in the capital budget by the previous government to do that project during this period or any period other than 2023. And that's where it appears in the budget," he said.

However, Myers said with the active transportation fund the government is looking at many projects it can fund across the Island.

"That I am sure will make the list, though it hasn't been recommended by anyone we have met with so far," he said.

Beaton said the bike lane over the bridge is a major issue for Stratford residents.

"The recommendations are in place," she said. "The constituents are asking for this addition."

Myers said adding a lane would require shifting all four lanes to one side of the bridge, which will require an engineering review.

"I want to make sure we are safe and we don't go wildly forward with something that is going to be detrimental to one of our major pieces of infrastructure," he said.

Beaton said she's disappointed that recommendations were tabled in 2012 on active transportation but that funding has been delayed until 2023 — a gap of 11 years.

"I think it is important we don't just shelve a report because we changed a government," she said.

Advocates table petition

Scott Brown of Bike Friendly Charlottetown also brought a petition to the legislature on Wednesday in support of the active transportation lane, calling on the PC government to make the change within its mandate.

Legislative Assembly of P.E.I.

Brown said in 2017 there was a commitment to build the lane along with sewer work done in Stratford.

"This was already promised before and never happened," he said.

Brown said he is a little disappointed by Myers' comments. He would like to see the lane a priority.

"I understand that there are various pieces to the puzzle to get this active transportation lane built across the bridge," he said. "But they are pieces to a puzzle … and this is the big piece that the province can do."

He said it would be great to see the project completed.

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