Fast-track cycling with federal money, councillors ask (Emma Jackson, Metro News)

The federal government could fast-track Ottawa’s cycling and pedestrian plans by up to 11 years, if some city councillors get their way.

Four urban councillors – Mathieu Fleury, Catherine McKenney, Jeff Leiper and Tobi Nussbaum – sent a joint letter to deputy city manager John Moser last Wednesday, asking him to prioritize cycling and pedestrian projects when staff request funding from the Liberals’ new Green Infrastructure Fund. 

“These projects merit prioritization not only for the safety, vibrancy, and job opportunities they will bring to the city’s communities,” the letter reads. “Investing in pedestrian and cycling infrastructure is also conducive to building a greener, more sustainable, healthier and more livable Ottawa for all residents to enjoy.”

Moser responded that he “will ensure that cycling and pedestrian projects are included for consideration as we move forward.”

Right now the city’s cycling plan is worth $70 million, to be spent incrementally over 15 years until 2031. The pedestrian plan follows suit.
It sounds like a lot of money, but it’s long been a thorn in cycling advocates’ sides that a single road-widening project could cost the same amount - and get done in a fraction of the time.

The spending-heavy Liberal budget presents an opportunity to speed things up, Fleury said.

“We really believe there’s an opportunity, as part of this budget, to say, ‘Hey, let’s realign some of our strategy,’” Fleury said. “We have (these projects) mostly shovel ready, so let’s do this and make a big impact.”

The budget includes $5 billion in new “green infrastructure” funding over the next five years, including an extra $125 million for emissions reductions projects through the Green Municipal Fund.

That’s separate from another $3.4 billion earmarked just for public transit funding, which Ottawa hopes will help fast-track stage two of its light-rail plans.

Fleury said prioritizing cycling and pedestrian projects – including major works like the Fifth-Clegg footbridge over the canal – would fill in “missing links.”

“In Ottawa we have a really good road network and the cycling plan and pedestrian plan would tie in some of the missing links on that front,” he said.

Ottawa-Centre MP Catherine McKenna said last week she’s “quite hopeful” the Fifth-Clegg footbridge in particular can get funding this term.

“I’m going to work very hard to get that funding,” she said.

Source: Metro News