Back in 2008, FrameWork Racing joined forces with over 100 CBRM residents at a council meeting where a vote was taking place to entrench spending on Active Transportation for the next 20 years. There was a lot of research done up to that point, but very little actual progress. With the gallery filled to capacity, council voted unanimously to spend $1 million per year for the next 20 years on Active Transportation infrastructure. To do that, they would leverage grants and funding from other organizations, mainly the provincial and federal government, basically spending $1 million but only costing the CBRM $333,000.
We were all happy to see that kind of progress, but actions speak louder than words. Here are some of the projects that were planned followed by a brief summary of what has been accomplished. There are other projects, but these are the main ones.
A nice bit of work to keep us busy for a few years. One of the key issues of funding these types of projects is that you have to spend the money each year. The funds cannot be carried forward. The problem is that a project might get derailed by unforeseen circumstances. For example, the project listed as “Downtown Sydney to Mayflower Mall” is mostly a plan to pave separated bike lanes running along both sides of Spar Rd. If you have ever biked this road, you know there is a problem with the tracks. A plan to solve that problem has been devised, but the owners of the tracks, Rail America, are proving difficult to work with. Without an agreement with Rail America, the project remains on hold. Problems like that exist all along Grand Lake Rd, delaying the “Sydney-Glace Bay multi-use path” as well.
Even though it appears that things aren’t being done, sometimes it’s not possible to complete projects in a timely manner. Appearances can be deceiving. It’s not for lack of trying. There are funding issues and project delays that can prevent spending the full amount. Now we are nearing the end of the 2012-2013 fiscal year for CBRM which is almost 4 years. Since there is no carry forward for spending, they will never be able to “catch up” but it seems as though they have been picking up the spending quite rapidly, and the “big” projects are still being planned, and wrinkles being ironed.
In September of 2010 Rick McCready of CBRM reported to FrameWork Racing, the following progress after the first full year of the new plan:
“Last year (2009-2010), we spent $325,967 on AT Plan projects, of which $219,342 (67%) was comprised of federal and provincial grants. That was the first year of AT Plan implementation. The largest expenditure was extension of the Westmount Walking Loop, followed by the engineering plans for the Whitney Pier Heritage Trail. There was also money spent on purchasing 59 bike racks and rings, bike racks for the transit fleet, walking loop signage, drawings for the George Street bike lane, etc. The budget last year was supposed to be $1 million but two problems occurred: HPP (NS Dept of Health Promotion and Protection) rejected our application for funding and the Westmount project got delayed due to the discovery of unexpected problems with the sanitary sewer, meaning the monies allotted to that project could not all be spent.”
FrameWork Racing recently received an update from CBRM that goes like this:
“We have spent over $2 million on AT Plan implementation in the last 4 years, so we have spent less than we had planned..Most of the money has been spent on the Westmount walking loop, the Whitney Pier Trail, the Greenlink trail, the Grand Lake Road Multi Use path engineering design, and the purchase of steel 4 seat park benches. There have been a lot of smaller projects such as the Renwick brook tunnel redesign, bike rack purchases, the Sydney River multi use path design, the Glace bay bus shelter to name a few.
“A lot has been done but it is true that we have not made a lot of progress on the bike specific infrastructure. The reasons for the delays have partly been financial. We spend a lot of time waiting for federal and provincial grants to come through, often pushing projects from one year into the next. There have also been other technical and jurisdictional issues….such as dealing with RailAmerica on the SPAR Rd shoulder paving and the Sydney River MUP routing…very difficult.
“We think approval from RailAmerica is close for the SPAR, so it SHOULD happen in the spring. The Grand Lake Rd MUP is our biggest single project and we hope to start this coming year as well. We have included it in our budget request to Council and have applied for provincial funding as well, and will be applying shortly to ECBC.”
Thanks to Rick McCready for providing the information in a very timely manner.