Port Alberni Budget 2016: Bike lanes, truck road top engineering wish list

New cycling infrastructure, a new Third Avenue median and an industrial Harbour Road were the big projects on the wish list.

New cycling infrastructure, a new Third Avenue median and an industrial Harbour Road were the big projects on the wish list at the engineering budget presentation on Monday.

Some of the wishes follow on the heels of the 2014 Active Transportation Plan and the recent food security and climate change committee’s recommendations.

“The Active Transportation Plan was further used to develop a cycling lane plan on the main routes,” said city engineer Guy Cicon.

“What we’ve discussed are separated bike lanes and share bike lanes.”

The cycling lanes Cicon is proposing would be demarcated by a painted line at the side of the road on River Road, the eastern section of Roger Street and 10th Avenue to just beyond Argyle Street—excluding the dip.

Many of the rest of Port Alberni’s main roads are proposed to get shared lanes, where cars must allow bikes to take up the entire outside lane.

These would be in addition to the protected bike lanes recommended by the food security and climate change committee that Cicon called both the most cost-intensive and the safest.

“These are one- or two-way bike lanes protected by different barriers,” said Cicon.

“The advantages of these protected bike lanes are safety and mobility for all users.”

The FSCD committee is calling for a $10,000 study on the design of protected bike lanes.

Cicon’s plan would cost the city $50,000, ideally matched by BikeBC grants, he said.

Coun. Jack McLeman said he was opposed to on-street bike lanes.

“Bike lanes are a real great thing. The problem that I have with bike lanes here are that we don’t have a whole lot of bikers in Port Alberni and the other concern I’ve got is safety,” said McLeman.

“With bikes and parked cars and cars driving back and forth and a painted line on 10th Avenue… I just don’t want to kill someone.”

McLeman said that he would prefer to see cycling routes designed to keep cyclists off the streets, not onto them.

Another FSCD committee recommendation was the implementation of a pilot kitchen and yard waste collection project.

“We could perhaps identify a small neighbourhood where we could give out carts and collect kitchen and yard waste and deposit it for yard waste at a site identified within a city facility,” Cicon said.

“It’s a concept that has been talked about at the regional district.”

The Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District is currently debating the merits of setting up a composting facility versus paying to construct a landfill gas collection system.

Whether the city went its own way or with the ACRD however, Cicon said that shipping the waste out of the Alberni Valley was a “weak option.”

The project would be based on any additional or excess capacity in the city’s existing residential pick-up system, Cicon added

Also in the proposed engineering budget was an LED streetlight program for $150,000, welcome signs for $90,000 and a city hall backup diesel generator for $100,000.

Mayor Mike Ruttan questioned the energy source of the backup generator.

“We’ve had several discussions about the possibility of solar for backup—is that possible instead of this diesel consuming monster?” Ruttan asked Cicon.

The city engineer said it wasn’t yet feasible.

“It really is something to produce a fair bit of energy. With my experience with the solar powered generators is that we’d need a lot of surface area to be able to power even the minimal circuits that we have,” Cicon said.

He added that the four solar panels soon to be installed on the city’s new water treatment plant will serve as a test case for the viability of solar in the Alberni Valley.

Added to Cicon’s engineering budget was $380,000 for the construction of the port authority’s proposed Somass boardwalk and sewer connection.

Council had some ideas of their own for projects they wanted to see done, including a median down the middle of lower Third Avenue that Cicon estimated at $360,000.

“We’ll be working on a project to rename Gertrude, Stamp and Third Avenue,” said Ruttan following the meeting.

“Along with that renaming—because we wanted to call it something that would end in boulevard—if you’re going to have a boulevard then we wanted it to be a boulevard for at least part of it.”

Council is also standing firm behind a Harbour Road—phase one would cost $4 million—and Ruttan enquired about the possibility of hooking up utilities to Polly’s Point, beyond Canal Beach.

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