The District of 100 Mile House’s new Active Transportation Network Plan (ATNP) is designed to help develop and enhance the active transportation network within the area.
The district received a B.C. Active Transportation Network Planning Grant in 2021 and through a series of surveys and public hearings gathered information from the public on the existing active transportation network.
Joanne Doddridge, director of economic development and planning said that the district has a trail linkage plan that was developed approximately 20 years ago. It identified many places where trails did not connect within 100 Mile and they wanted to link the trails together. This included sidewalks and pathways, not just nature trails.
“We really have put a focus on the district over the last 20 years to really try to link those trails. Well, we’ve knocked so many projects off that plan now, so much of the work is done and now we sort of needed a new plan to help guide what we’re going to do for active transportation which includes things like pedestrians or even scooters, people riding a bicycle,” she said. “You could even have paddling be a form of active transportation, depending on where you live.”
The idea is to encourage people to get out and be healthy and reduce the stress on the roads, so the ATNP was the next logical step.
The plan outlines the existing conditions of the community, identifies gaps and deficiencies, outlines priorities and provides recommendations to help develop and enhance the active transportation network.
It also facilitates the infrastructure improvement decisions within the community as a strategic planning document, as well as addressing community programs and policies that aid and enhance the active transportation network. The document may also be used when trying to secure funding for transportation projects from other levels of government.
Some major themes came out of the study, including safety.
Mayor Maureen Pinkney pointed out that all the new sidewalks are considerably wider than previously.
“With safety in mind, knowing that as our population is clearly older, it allows for possibly two scooters passing – just being more accessible to everybody and being safer.”
The plan shows where all of the foot traffic is in town. As an example Pinkney mentioned the lit crosswalk by the Hydro building – do we need more of those, is that one even needed, how many people cross there?
“This really identifies all of that and that will really help us plan proper crosswalks proper subdivisions,” she said. “We have an area where we might be thinking ‘well we really need a crosswalk here’ and this thing says nope, no one ever crosses there. It’s just really good solid data, the foundation of what to build on.”
Part of this data was gathered by teams who went out and surveyed where and when foot traffic occurred throughout the day and the ages of the people crossing at the various locations
People want to feel safe and comfortable when out walking. Having big trucks brush by your elbow is not very comfortable. There needs to be a separation between pedestrian and road traffic.
Something that caught Doddridge by surprise was the emphasis on cycling infrastructure as she does not see that many people out biking. She said perhaps it is because there is no existing cycling infrastructure in place.
Another item that came out of the study was the need for connectivity. People want their pathways and trails to be connected so there is a continuous loop from A to B when out walking.
Accessibility was a big one. The district has put in work upgrading existing infrastructure by adding features as letdowns on curbs. Doddridge said there is always more work to be done. Especially if they are retrofitting something that has been around for a long time and was not built with accessibility in mind. Now, all the new projects are built with accessibility being a part of the plan.
In terms of priorities, the district is still digesting what the document tells them. Doddridge said now they have to look at it and see how it fits into the current capital plan.
“And the problem with any of our trail systems in our local sidewalks if you know you may look over there and go oh, the sidewalk has some cracks. Well, that should be our priority,” said Pinkney. “But in fact, our infrastructure in the ground, we’re just now knowing that it’s all basically at end of life.”
Anything they have not already replaced is now due to go and they are finding it interesting to discover what pipe is underneath the ground having been installed so many years ago.
“First, we have to go through that priority, because of course water and sewer are number one, a lot more than whether or not we have a pretty trail for someone to walk on,” said Pinkney. “I mean, by the time we do what has to be done unless there’s a really good grant or something. I mean, we run out of our taxpayers’ dollars, just on the maintenance and the upgrades and that kind of stuff.”