Courtenay soliciting feedback for 25-year transportation plan

The City of Courtenay wants to know what the community would like to see in terms of transportation over the next 25 years.

Residents participated in a Courtenay transportation plan open house Oct. 16 at the Westerly Hotel and Convention Centre.

Residents participated in a Courtenay transportation plan open house Oct. 16 at the Westerly Hotel and Convention Centre.

The City of Courtenay wants to know what the community would like to see in terms of transportation over the next 25 years.

The City is in the midst of developing a 25-year Transportation Master Plan, and information about the plan can be found on Courtenay’s website, www.courtenay.ca, along with an electronic survey for Comox Valley residents to fill out. The deadline to complete the survey is Nov. 13.

Representatives from O2 Planning and Design and Morrison Hershfield updated Courtenay council on the process so far during Monday’s council meeting.

The project started in August and is expected to be completed by January or February. O2 Planning and Design’s Andrew Palmiere noted the project is in the visioning stage right now, and it’s important the City prepares for future growth.

The “City of Courtenay is growing, you know, by 2037 we’ll be moving from 24,000 up to about 42,000 people, and how we accommodate those people and how you provide different opportunities for transportation and transit, are going to be absolutely critical,” he told council.

According to a City staff report, “the visionary framework has been guided by the Official Community Plan which calls for a strong orientation to multi-modal transportation options.”

Palmiere spoke about an idea of “complete streets” which would put wide roadways “on a diet” and use that space on the sides of the roads to help manage traffic flows and provide areas for alternative modes of transportation, like biking.

“You’re still able to accommodate all the vehicles that you need to but you put those carriageways, like I said, on a diet, and you’ve started to think about other opportunities within that space, and it starts to become a pretty amazing place pretty quickly,” he added.

Mayor Larry Jangula said he was somewhat disappointed with the presentation because he didn’t see enough information about traffic flow.

“You seemed to talk about bicycles and walking and that sort of thing. We’ve done a lot of work on that, we’ve spent a lot of money, proportionally I think, of taxpayers’ money, on the bicycle routes and walking. I’m not saying they’re not good things. Ninety-five per cent of the transportation in this community is still by private vehicle,” he said, adding he wants to see information on the potential of a third crossing over the Courtenay River and the viability of a circle road around the city, among other things.

“We’ve beat this other one to death quite frankly, and due to our aging population, due to our weather today, we’re not going to get people riding bikes every day of the year.”

Palmiere responded that Monday’s report was a “higher level” vision, and the traffic analysis part of the project hasn’t been completed yet. He told council things like the viability of a third river crossing and traffic flows will be looked at.

Coun. Doug Hillian said he was pleased with the presentation.

“I don’t hear anything in your visioning that suggests we’re not going to do our best to accommodate automobiles. I think that’s the reality, but what I hear you talking about is ensuring that we’re providing an infrastructure that will encourage the alternatives,” he said.

Coun. Ronna-Rae Leonard echoed Hillian’s opinion.

“I think what you’re talking about is trying to shift us so that we are dealing with a different world order,” she said.  “We’re dealing with reducing greenhouse gasses, we are creating complete streets which have a place for everybody.”

Coun. Starr Winchester pointed out she’s proud of the City’s advances in cycling and walking infrastructure. She also echoed the Mayor’s concerns and said she “can’t emphasize enough the importance of the automobile in this community,” and she would like to see some “more realistic data” in the next report.

An update to council is expected next month.

A public open house happened earlier this week and another will be scheduled in January.

writer@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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