Salmon Arm is being propelled towards making active transportation more safe, attractive and convenient for all its residents through its new Active Transportation Task Force.
The task force, which will be making final recommendations to the city before the end of 2021, moulded its most common and pressing findings into interim recommendations.
Members Blake Lawson, Anita Ely and Craig Newnes presented them to council Jan. 11, sparked by need for the city to be ready for the possibility of upcoming provincial funding.
Active transportation is defined as human-powered transportation such as walking, cycling, skiing, skateboarding or canoeing, as well as travelling with a device that gives a boost such as mobility aids, e-bikes and electric kick scooters. Active transportation can also be combined with other modes of travel such as public transit.
Lawson told council the task force learned that nine per cent of commuter trips in Salmon Arm are made via active transportation. He said that’s on the low side compared to other similarly sized communities in B.C.
Six recommendations to council included:
• the city should continue to collaborate with Neskonlith and Adams Lake bands to develop an equitable and connected active transportation system;
• a comprehensive Active Transportation Master Plan should be developed through an inclusive, equitable, public participation approach; and
• council should consider allocating $30,000 of the 2021 budget toward developing a master plan ($20,000 was allocated in the 2020 budget).
Council will consider the $30,000 request during budget deliberations on Jan. 18.
Coun. Tim Lavery, who spearheaded the task force, commended its members on all their work. He referred to information that stood out for him.
He said two to six per cent of the population use active transportation no matter what, 10 to 30 per cent are enthusiasts, and 37 to 60 per cent are interested in active transportation but are concerned about safety.
“I think what that means is we need to be looking at multi-use separated paths. They do cost more. But… the way forward is increasing the safety factor so that the bulk of the population can engage in active transportation, separate from vehicle traffic.”
Council discussed Salmon Arm’s need to work with the city’s hilly reality, one that a focus on active transportation could help.
Task force member Anita Ely noted active transportation is more than just transportation. It’s about connecting the whole community, not just physically but also socially.
Council accepted the report, which can be found on page 191 of council’s Jan. 11 agenda, and voted unanimously to have staff monitor upcoming provincial grant opportunities.