Plans for a new 1.6-kilometre multi-use trail along the Trans-Canada Highway near the BC Forest Discovery Centre have been put on hold.
The Municipality of North Cowichan has decided to cancel the tender process for the construction of the trail in 2018 due to a shortfall of $334,100 for a project that was originally budgeted to cost $972,000.
The new trail was supposed to run from the Dike Trail Terminus to Drinkwater Road East, and was intended to create a safe cycling and pedestrian connection along the highway.
The province’s BikeBC Fund announced last year that North Cowichan would receive $472,000 to expand cycling lanes, and the funding was expected to cover approximately half the costs of the trail, with North Cowichan picking up the rest of the bill.
The trail was the first project out of 10 specific capital projects in the municipality’s five-year bike network plan.
David Conway, North Cowichan’s director of engineering, said in a staff report that estimates to construct the trail have risen from its original budget to $1,306,000.
“This leaves a shortfall of $334,100, which is 35 per cent over budget and brings the municipal contribution from $500,000 to $834,100,” Conway said.
“BikeBC has been contacted to determine if options through the grant funding existed, but it was confirmed that there is no money available to increase grant amounts. It was also confirmed that the grant can’t be shifted to any other project.”
Conway said the province suggested that BikeBC would entertain a new timeline that would allow the municipality to budget over two years; 2018 and 2019.
Conway said North Cowichan could cover the shortfall by deferring other trail projects budgeted for 2018.
“Council could also choose to cancel the project and either carry the municipal portion to a future year, or decide to implement a different project with a $500,000 value in 2018.” he said.
“The BikeBC grant would then be retracted by the province.”
Council decided to cancel the tender process for the project in the 2018 budget, and staff were directed to prepare recommendations on other bike network projects for council to consider in 2018.