Westward Independent

$47 million dollar master transportation plan for North Cowichan

by Westward Independent
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On June 4th North Cowichan passed its Master Transportation plan.

The North Cowichan Master Transportation Plan outlines several priorities and demographic details: Demographic Summary: Population: 31,990 (2021), a 50% increase since 1991. WATT consulting suggests there could be a growth potential with a full build-out that could accommodate 25,355 additional residential units, potentially raising the population to over 90,000, a DRASTIC difference from the projected growth of approx. 35k by 2050.

Age Distribution: The median age is 51.2 years. The largest groups are ages 60-64 and 65-69, making up a significant portion of the population. Projections indicate a 230% increase in those aged 85 and older, while the rest of the population grows by less than 50%, which does not seem to bode as well for the massive ‘active’ infrastructure they have planned.

Transportation Priorities: Short-Term Intersection and Active Transportation Improvements: Focus on urban areas with existing sidewalks and implementing quick-build materials like concrete curbs and planters and bike lanes with barriers. Some areas such as Berkey’s hold priority infrastructure ‘improvements’ such as a bike lane along Sherman, and a roundabout at Sherman and Lane. The Master Transportation Plan includes a project to implement bi-directional protected bike lanes on James Street, from Duncan Street to the Trans-Canada Highway. The plan notes that this will involve the removal of 10 on-street parking spaces and re-striping the road to create a protected cycling facility.  

Cost: Estimated at $47.06 million over 10 years, approximately $4.71 million per year.

Mode Share and Travel Data: Current Travel Patterns: 88% of trips are by automobile, with high car dependency compared to similar communities. The average trip distance is 11.24 km. Berkey’s Corner, Chemainus, and Lakes have shorter trip distances, while Bell McKinnon has the highest percentage of auto drivers.

Community Context: Geographic Diversity: North Cowichan is a large, diverse community with distinct sub-areas, which poses challenges for universal transportation solutions.

Household Travel Survey: Conducted in 2021, providing data on travel patterns and mode share, which inform transportation planning.

Concerns: The plan may not cater equally to all demographics, especially the aging population, and areas with limited amenities and sustainable transportation infrastructure, like Bell McKinnon, might face challenges. The switching of infrastructure priorities from roads to bike lanes will become a frustration for 88% of commuters and people unable to just hop on a bike. Road ‘improvements’ such as the Canada Ave. one will further frustrate drivers (as it is meant to) and increase frustration to first responders as cars can not move over, and even more so if there are barriers between the bike lanes. 

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