The District of Sicamous is looking to improve sidewalks, pathways and all avenues for human-powered transportation in the coming months.
The Active Transportation Network Plan aims to increase access to human-powered transportation and support initiatives that make those options safer. This includes building and upgrading paved and gravel multi-use trails, sidewalks, bike facilities and safety features like street lighting.
Ian Roth, Urban Matters engineer, presented council with the network plan at the March 8 committee of the whole meeting, going over specific projects and the plan’s ultimate goals.
Those goals include protecting the environment, connecting amenities and residences, improving safety features in accordance with B.C.’s active transportation design guide recommendations and ensuring transportation choices are safe and comfortable for all ages and abilities.
Public consultation was conducted in summer 2022 and the active transportation plan works with the Parks and Trails Master Plan that is underway, said Roth. The active transportation plan deals with urban amenities and the master plan is tackling recreational and nature trail projects.
Roth shared statistics from the consultation that show nearly half of Sicamous residents drive to restaurants, grocery stores, work or school and other errands, and almost the rest of the transportation recorded was walking, biking, riding scooters or other human-powered modes of transport.
The presentation also revealed residents’ most valued aspects of active transportation, with the top five being health, safety, recreational use, increasing transportation and connectivity.
Main challenges identified were sidewalks and pathways that are not complete, pedestrians feeling unsafe because of close vehicle traffic on walkways, and a lack of light at night. These will be priorities for the plan, and specifically the plan will focus on waterfront pedestrian connectivity, Main Street revitalization, highway crossings, seasonal demand influx and future connections to the Shuswap North Okanagan Rail Trail.
The funding for these projects comes primarily from federal and provincial grants and private investment. Roth mentioned the B.C. Active Transportation Infrastructure grants funding which is already on its way to aid the rail trail project.
Mayor and council asked about specific projects, infrastructure standards and price estimates, including the price of maintaining sidewalks long-term, and Roth and district staff said the prices reflect past construction costs and inflation.
Roth and staff said they would like the plan finalized by the end of March and agreed to bring it back to the next meeting after council has time to review and add any additional projects they would like.