With an increasing population and more use of its roadways and other transportation systems, North Cowichan is looking to update its master transportation plan to meet present and future needs.
David Conway, the municipality’s director of engineering, told council members at a meeting on March 9 that, when complete, the new MTP will guide the district’s transportation networks for the next 30 years.
He said the MTP has not been updated since 2008.
“[The new MTP] will help North Cowichan set goals for future infrastructure work,” Conway said.
“Active transportation [including bicycling and walking] and alternative transportation [including the increasing use of e-bikes and e-scooters] systems need integration in land-use planning moving forward.”
Conway said development is quickly changing and expanding in North Cowichan, and pointed to the growth in the Berkey’s Corner area, and the ongoing planning for the expected rapid growth of the Bell McKinnon area with the upcoming construction of the new hospital as examples.
“The MTP will contain clear transportation goals and objectives, and provide a road map with concrete, short-term projects that can be achieved,” he said.
Conway said studies indicate that population growth in North Cowichan has been forecasted to be nine per cent between 2019 and 2025, averaging about 1.45 per cent a year.
He said, relatedly, traffic volumes in the municipality are growing by approximately one per cent a year, based on counts along major roadways.
Conway said staff hope to have the new MTP completed by the end of the year, but promised plenty of public consultations using various means over the year to ensure the public will have a say in how their transportation networks are to be planned for the next three decades.
“Our expected outcomes, vision and goals over the next 30 years includes sustainable transportation in North Cowichan that will focus on transit, cycling and pedestrian networks,” he said.
Conway said the municipality will also look at establishing more infrastructure for e-bikes, e-scooters and other micro-mobility [a range of small, lightweight vehicles operating at speeds typically below 25 km/h] that will keep conflicts with traditional active transport, such as walkers and cyclists, to a minimum.
Coun. Christopher Justice asked if speed limits in North Cowichan would be looked at as part of the process.
He said groups like 880 Cities, a non-profit organization that brings people together to enhance mobility and public space in communities, has concluded that one key to vibrant and livable communities is slower traffic.
Conway said the subject of traffic calming will be considered in the development of the MTP, and many stakeholder and other groups will be contacted for their input before any final decisions are made.