City councillors seek federal funding for cycling projects
Published Friday, March 25, 2016 4:40PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, March 25, 2016 6:44PM EDT
Cycling and pedestrian infrastructure projects could soon be getting a big boost from the federal government if a group of city councillors have their way.
Councillor Catherine McKenney and three other urban councillors are working on a proposal that could see millions of dollars directed at cycling and pedestrian infrastructure projects in the capital.
In a letter sent to the Deputy City Manager this week, McKenney argued that obtaining federal funding for planned projects would "allow the City to reduce its own spending while expediting the implementation."
"It's ambitious, but the last time we had federal funding we got some exciting projects done that nobody thought we would get done," said the Somerset Ward councillor.
On Tuesday the federal government unveiled more than $5 billion in funding for new green infrastructre projects. Finance Minister Bill Morneau said the fund would help ease congestion in communities across the country, create jobs and help Canada transition to a low carbon economy.
For the city of Ottawa the fund could mean millions of dollars in new federal money to help offset the cost of the city's existing 15-year, $70 million pedestrian and cycling plans. Those plans include the construction of the Clegg St. Pedestrian Bridge, the O'Connor segregated bike lanes, Wellington St. bike lanes and more.
"It is just such an opportunity to move forward with that plan and to do what we can do," said McKenney.
Instead of taking 15 years to implement all the projects, McKenney said federal funding could reduce their timeline to just four years.
Kitchissippi Ward Councillor Jeff Leiper is on board with the plan. He said an investment in greener modes of transportation will ultimately ease congestion on the roads and encourage more people to take public transit. A recent study said 35% of Ottawa residents are waiting for better infrastructure before commuting to work by bike.
"More investment in the short term on cycling means that we will all have a faster commute to get to work," Leiper said.
"It costs us less when more people cycle," he added.
The next step will be for city staff to come up with a plan to bring to council for approval. The plan would then be submitted to the federal government for funding approval. That, McKenney said, could take time.