Smithers is shifting into a higher gear when it comes to non-motorized transportation.
After receiving the first draft version of their Active Transportation Plan (ATP) on Nov. 1 council voted unanimously at their Nov. 26 meeting to approve the final version of the ATP.
In addition, council voted to refer the ATP implementation strategies discussion and consideration to the next five-year financial planning process and integration into the Official Community Plan (OCP) bylaw revisions planned for 2020-22.
Councillor Frank Wray suggested an amendment to the report: adding a fourth bullet point to the list of recommendations stipulating the ATP also be referred to the Standing Committee on Strategic Priorities.
This was also unanimously supported by council.
“I think we need to know where it fits in with our other priorities,” said Wray in support of his amendment.
“It doesn’t really make sense to budget for something that you don’t know where it sits in your priorities,” he added, noting he was supporting the overall recommendations of the report to council despite not supporting the ATP in the first place.
There was a bit of concern from acting mayor Gladys Atrill about whether Wray was suggesting waiting to bring the ATP to budget until after it had gone through the strategic priorities process.
However Chief Administrative Officer Alan Harris confirmed the next meeting should be taking place on or around Dec. 17.
The Active Transportation Plan identifies a comprehensive set of 42 actions to help the town achieve its non-motorized transportation goals.
The results come from a number of different participants, including 165 survey respondents, 70 ideas fair attendees, 31 photo submissions and 12 stakeholders involved in the process.
Four overarching goals of the plan were expressed including improving the safety and accessibility of all active transportation users, maximizing the convenience of Smithers’ active transportation network and fostering a climate of active transportation within the town.
“Smithers strives to support residents of all ages and abilities in choosing to travel by foot, bike and all other forms of active mobility to safely and efficiently get to where they need to go,” the report states.
“Our future network is safe, cohesive and enjoyable, regardless of the season. Active transportation connects Smithers’s local and rural residents and plays a foundational role in contributing to community health and overall quality of life.”
In addition to these stated goals, the draft identified a list of “the big five moves” the Town will take to jump-start the enhancement of its active transportation network: implementing a protected bicycle lane on Third Avenue from Queen Street to King Street; designating King-Main Street as the north-south cycling spine; addressing the missing link on Railway Avenue; developing a bike count program and improving safety at all Highway 16 crossings.
The ATP also involves a self-monitoring element and notes the Town will evaluate it on a regular basis through monitoring walking and cycling statistics as a share of the population’s transportation methods via StatsCan.