City’s plan for active transport revived

by Bartley Kives
Winnipeg Free Press

THE City of Winnipeg has revived a bike-and-pedestrian strategy the cancellation of which earlier this summer sparked an outcry from cycling activists.

In July, Winnipeg’s public works department nixed a plan to spend $400,000 on an active-transportation master plan that would have been prepared by Vancouver consulting firm Urban Systems.

The plan, initiated in the wake of a messily executed 2010 bike-and-pedestrian upgrade, was intended to help the city choose future active-transportation routes, ensure the city had the capacity to build them and align the funding priorities with those of two other levels of government.

But the plan was cancelled when the city official in charge of the project wound up busy with a road-twinning project, public works director Brad Sacher said.

Several members of council, including public works chairman Dan Vandal (St. Boniface), were concerned the $400,000 price tag was too high for a planning framework.

But in the wake of complaints from the public and others members of council, Sacher renegotiated the scope of the consulting contract, which has been scaled back.

The revived master plan may be completed by the end of January, Sacher said Friday.

“There’s a lot of work to do and not enough resources to get everything done. But after (this plan) was cancelled, it became really apparent it’s a really important project to a lot of Winnipeggers,” Sacher said.

City staff will now oversee the implementation of the plan, which could be completed in time to inform decisions about routes to build in 2014, he added. “It will help us for the budget and for capital-planning projects going forward. It’s an important study and something we really needed to complete.”

As a result of the change, the project fee was reduced by $70,000 to $330,000, Vandal said.

“Nobody was ever against a master plan. We just felt the price was crazy,” he said.

Mark Cohoe, executive director of commuter-cycling lobby group Bike Winnipeg, said he is thrilled the city has salvaged the plan.

“It’s good to see the city is listening and reacting,” Cohoe said after hearing the news.

“It’s going to bring a lot of outside expertise to Winnipeg — a fresh set of eyes with a worldly perspective that will give us a bit of focus.

“It will get us in line with what other cities are doing.”


Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 7, 2013 A4