There were a handful of questions related to sidewalks at a budget-focused e-town hall meeting Monday. (NEWS BULLETIN file photo)

Taxpayers at e-town hall meeting ask for more sidewalks in Nanaimo

City collects feedback on budget items as it moves toward adopting 2020-24 financial plan

The City of Nanaimo asked for taxpayers’ thoughts on the budget, and residents replied that they want more sidewalks.

There were a handful of questions related to pedestrian infrastructure at an e-town hall meeting Monday at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre. The hour-long question-and-answer session was intended to be a forum for feedback in between the city’s budget discussions and its next steps toward adopting the financial plan.

Council cleared up some confusion about money budgeted for sidewalks, noting that a $300,000 line item is a contingency fund, not the extent of pedestrian infrastructure spending.

“It’s not all the money we’re going to spend on sidewalks by any way, shape or form,” said Coun. Don Bonner. “That is just there in case an opportunity comes up to add onto something that’s happening.”

Coun. Tyler Brown said there is $1.8 million budgeted in 2020 and $6.6 million in the 2020-2024 financial plan for pedestrian infrastructure. He pointed to the active transportation plan, which is an action item in council’s strategic plan to be completed in 2020.

“In that plan we’ll be developing a much more robust methodology for how we do these improvements and where we do them and the factors and inputs that lead into that,” he said.

RELATED: Active transportation plan coming, but it’s already a city priority

Brown suggested spending on sidewalks isn’t easily calculated because they’re tied into overlapping projects, and suggested the city will continue to apply – and possibly increase – resources “to improve an infrastructure that I think a lot of people, rightfully so, label as inadequate. A lot of it is undoing past development patterns, but that’s no excuse [not] to make the effort to improve it.”

Coun. Ian Thorpe said the city has a long-term strategy for improving transportation in all its forms.

“Because of the layout of the city it’s very, very challenging and we can’t fix everything all at once,” he said. “But there is a long-term plan, projects have been identified and often staff try to piggyback improvements in certain areas so that if we are building a roadway, we can look at sidewalks and cycle paths at the same time.”

One question submitted to councillors asked why cycle lanes were a greater priority than sidewalks and city manager of engineering and public works Bill Sims said that isn’t the case.

“I think our investment in pedestrian infrastructure is at least as or greater than cycling infrastructure … often our focus is pedestrians first,” he said.

READ ALSO: Province asks for public input to make communities more walkable, bike friendly

READ ALSO: How to go about getting a sidewalk

Asked about a breakdown of the $1.8 million to be spent in 2020, Sims said “a big part of that” will be the Metral Drive ‘complete streets’ project.

“Each of these projects are prioritized typically how we would prioritize any of them. They’re based on traffic speeds, volume, demand, that sort of thing,” Sims said.

A specific question asked for sidewalk and crosswalk improvements near Departure Bay Eco-School. Sims said staff agrees it’s a priority area, it was studied in 2018 and is funded for 2022, though staff is looking at interim measures there.

Brown said part of the active transportation planning process will be hearing input from the public about “the changing context of our streets” and said the city wants to ensure that it delivers the sort of improvements that the community wants and will benefit from.

RELATED: Nanaimo city council expected to vote on 5.2-per cent property tax increase

OPINION: The more walkable a city, the more liveable it is



editor@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district hires new secretary-treasurer

Mark Walsh to join Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools effective April 15

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Adaptation, not blame, required in COVID-19 crisis

Analysis must be about finding out what happened and prevent it happening again, says letter writer

RCMP investigate after dog owner leaves following incident involving pooch, hiker on Notch Hill

Victim reported minor injuries and was treated at the Oceanside Health Centre

Downtown Nanaimo hotel shows love and appreciation for front-line workers

Coast Bastion illuminates windows in the shape of hearts, hopes other buildings do the same

VIDEO: B.C. singer creates frontline workers tribute song

Cambree Lovesy’s song saluting those battling COVID-19 draws interest online

COVID-19 death toll reaches 50 in B.C., while daily case count steadies

B.C. records 34 new cases in the province, bringing total active confirmed cases to 462

Researchers to study whether plasma of recovered patients can treat COVID-19

Plasma is the liquid portion of the blood that contains the antibodies that protect against illness

Cowichan Valley man dies in single-vehicle collision

First responders called to Miller Road shortly after midnight on Thursday

B.C., Alberta health ministers urge public to stay home Easter weekend

Regional politicians, online petition calling for closure of provincial border to non-essential traffic

B.C.’s COVID-19 rent supplement starts taking applications

$300 to $500 to landlords for April, May and June if eligible

Most Read