Active Transportation Network Plan Underway

The Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) with municipal partners and K'omoks First Nation, are undertaking a Regional Active Transportation Network Plan. The Plan will identify priority areas and routes for investment in active transportation infrastructure. The CVRD received funding for this project from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and would like to thank the Province for this support.

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CVRD News: CVRD undertaking Active Transportation Plan to help move, commute and connect region

The Comox Valley Regional District is launching its first ever Active Transportation Network Plan! The Plan will identify priority areas and routes for investment in active transportation infrastructure - helping us to MOVE like a Region!

The development of this Active Transportation Network Plan will support Move. Commute. Connect. BC’s strategy for cleaner, more active transportation. The CVRD received funding for this project from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and would like to thank the Province for this support.

Purpose and Goals

Active transportation includes:

  • Walking (including people walking with service dogs, people jogging, and people using mobility devices such as wheelchairs, walkers, and strollers)
  • Cycling (including the use of pedal assist e-bikes, bicycle trailers, etc.)
  • Rolling (skateboarding, in-line skating)
  • Other emerging modes such as electric unicycles or other personal mobility technologies;
  • And can include winter and water focused travel such as snowshoeing and kayaking (however these are not a main focus of this network plan).

Active transportation has many advantages over vehicle travel—such as improved health, lesser environmental footprint, greater affordability, and social benefits on both a personal and community level. It can take many forms and is continually evolving as new technologies emerge.

A key goal of the plan is to improve connections between municipal areas and rural areas in order to create opportunities that will encourage residents to use active transportation on their daily trips - to work, to school, to shop, and to recreation. The plan will therefore identify connections among the CVRD’s Core Settlement Areas – being the municipalities, the rural settlement nodes (Union Bay, Saratoga, Mt. Washington), and K'omoks First Nation lands.

Another key goal of the Active Transportation Network Plan is to ensure safe and accessible transportation options are available and accessible for all residents regardless of age, ability, or income to improve safety, and reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions throughout the region.

Creation of a Community Profile

Create a profile of Comox Valley communities that show basic demographic statistics, a baseline assessment of active transportation abilities, known crash and safety issues, a baseline assessment of community greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions related to transportation, and a projection of GHG emissions into the future.

Development of an Existing Infrastructure Network Map

Create a map of existing active transportation routes (where are people walking and cycling, and how often), including interfaces with public transit stops and hubs and a totals of length and type of infrastructure as well as an assessment of their overall condition and design functionality.

Gap Analysis

Identify gaps within the Existing Infrastructure Network Map relative to the existing network and the regional connectivity objectives.

Implementation

Identify priority infrastructure and actions by sector (local government, provincial government, private sector) that will help move the Comox Valley toward provincial GHG emission reduction targets, recommend specific projects to help these goals and objectives (including identifying funding sources, construction schedules, and post-construction maintenance plans), identify project co-benefits (such as rainwater management or increased tree coverage), and calculate projected GHG emission reductions for each project.

Evaluation and Monitoring

Identify key indicators and data sources to evaluate progress, provide an evaluation tool for partner local governments to gauge the progress and success of identified projects, and provide a monitoring and evaluation framework for local governments and community partners that is focused on the Comox Valley’s priority active transportation areas.

Community Engagement Plan

In consultation with the project team, develop a community engagement plan that will involve local residents, businesses, public health officials, and other stakeholder groups in discussions about what is working and not working with respect to active transportation in the Comox Valley, and what could be done about that.

Regional Growth Strategy and Transportation

The CVRD’s Regional Growth Strategy (RGS) was approved in 2010 after much public engagement and participation, and is a shared vision for managing growth and community impacts in our diverse urban and rural neighbourhoods. It is a plan to which the CVRD, City of Courtenay, Town of Comox, and Village of Cumberland must adhere, and it outlines policies, goals, and objectives for the region as we look toward the future. Eight overarching goals are outlined in the RGS, and the Active Transportation Network Plan will directly work toward three of them, which are outlined below.

Goal 4: Transportation

To develop an accessible, efficient and affordable multi-modal transportation network that connects Core Settlement Areas and designated Town Centres, and links the Comox Valley to neighbouring communities and regions.

Goal 4 is the foundational piece behind the plan, and outlines connections between specific areas within the Comox Valley that should be prioritized. The goal is to build a transportation network that is accommodating of all transportation types and abilities, and is convenient and effective. Related RGS objectives to this goal that the ATNP will work toward include:

  • Objective 4-B: Improve bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure to increase the use of active transportation options.
  • Objective 4-C: Develop and maintain an interregional transportation system that efficiently and safely facilities the movement of people and goods.

Goal 7: Public Health and Safety

To support a high quality of life through the protection and enhancement of community health, safety and well-being.

The scope of Goal 7 goes beyond transportation, but nonetheless includes transportation. A well-designed multi-modal transportation plan increases public health and safety in several different ways. By making it easier for people to do their daily errands or community by walking, cycling, or taking public transit, people will walk more, get more fresh air, and be more active. There is also a positive impact on those who do have to drive – more people using active transportation means fewer cars on the road, which means a quicker and safer commute. Related RGS objectives to this goal that the ATNP will work toward include:

  • Objective 7-A: Increase the number of pedestrians and cyclists in the Comox Valley.
  • Objective 7-B: Increase public education and awareness around the links between population health and land use planning.

Goal 8: Climate Change

Minimize regional greenhouse gas emission and plan for adaptation.

Similar to the goal above, Goal 8 stretches beyond transportation but still includes it. A major contributor to the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the CVRD are the use of private vehicles. Walking, cycling, or taking public transportation helps decrease one’s climate footprint and helps all of us work toward a greener future in the Comox Valley. Related RGS objectives to this goal that the ATNP will work toward include:

  • Objective 8-B: Reduce GHG emissions created by the on-road transportation sector.
  • Objective 8-F: Plan for climate change adaptation.

Board of Directors’ Strategic Priorities

On January 7, 2020, the CVRD Committee of the Whole approved a staff report entitled “Strategic Planning – Key Projects.” One of the key initiatives and projects listed within the proposed 2020-2024 budget is the implementation of a multi-modal integrated regional transportation agreement. The CVRD Active Transportation Network Plan is a first step in coordinating the efforts of the regional district, its member municipalities, the K’ómoks First Nation, and other stakeholder and community groups. Listed as strategic drivers for this agreement are a need for fiscal responsibility, to plan for the climate crisis, and to forge and foster community partnerships.

Province of British Columbia’s Active Transportation Guidelines

In 2019, the Province of British Columbia outlined steps the Province is taking to help communities increase support and infrastructure to facilitate active transportation. The provincial website can be reached here, and outlines funding opportunities, provides educational resources, introduces relevant policies and legislation, and provides tools for further research. The Province can be contacted directly through their webpage for any questions related to the information they provide.