City council members decide to use a provincial grant to expand a Dover-area project so it benefits cyclists and pedestrians. CITY OF NANAIMO image

Provincial grant boosts bike lane project in north Nanaimo

The City of Nanaimo will add bike lanes and a new sidewalk in the Dover Bay neighbourhood

A new sidewalk is coming for the new school year in Nanaimo’s Dover Bay neighbourhood.

Provincial grant money will expand a Dover-area bike lane project so the City of Nanaimo can fill in missing sidewalk near McGirr Elementary School.

The City of Nanaimo won a provincial grant of up to $92,580 from the B.C. government to put towards its bike way project, which will expand the cycling network along Dover, McGirr and Turner roads. A sidewalk, between Blueback and Invermere roads, was originally part of the project, but was pulled because of budget constraints, a city report shows. City council considered changing that decision last week, with the option to use the provincial grant to expand work and include the sidewalk.

Councillors Jerry Hong and Jim Kipp and Mayor Bill McKay were opposed.

Kipp said it’s a new area of town that’s getting an upgrade when there are areas of Nanaimo that don’t have sidewalks and are unsafe, and that there are things that council has asked for, but this isn’t one. He also expressed concern the city is “flipping things around,” taking something out before it was budgeted for and then throwing it back in because of the bike grant.

Coun. Ian Thorpe said he’s familiar with the Dover area and it’s an extremely busy roadway feeding McGirr and Dover schools. He’s also recently noticed pedestrians using cycling lanes thinking it’s a sidewalk, creating a “dangerous situation.”

“We were supposed to have a sidewalk along this strip before; it’s gotten deferred. I know there’s other places where we’d like sidewalks but I think when we’re doing this project now, let’s finish it off and put this sidewalk here,” he said, adding it’s warranted and an area where there is a safety issue.

Jason Minter, head of the road safety committee for the McGirr Elementary parent advisory council, said from a PAC and parent perspective, the project is great.

“Eventually we’re going to have to let our kids learn independence and to be walking to the 7-Eleven that’s right there. It’s a very popular road for kids to be walking, students can be jogging or whatever,” he said, adding with the bike lane a difference can already be seen with vehicles moving over and to have a sidewalk would just make sense. “It’s a busy road.”

Crossings, however, are the PAC’s top concern, such as McGirr at Sierra Way and McRobb Avenue where Minter said parents would like to see pedestrian-activated lights.

Bike lane construction is underway and sidewalk construction will happen in late summer or early fall.

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