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Council Plans to Improve Nelson’s Bicycle Paths and 'Walkability'

Bill Metcalfe
By Bill Metcalfe
September 10th, 2012

The City of Nelson plans to create interconnected bicycle pathways and bike parking facilities throughout the city. That’s a goal that will be incorporated into a new draft of Nelson’s 2008 Official Community Plan (OCP) at a council meeting in October.

The city will also “establish direct and accessible, human-powered transportation, including the provision of all season pedestrian and cycling pathways that are well connected to transit.”

And: “The City will reduce personal vehicle use and promote alternative modes of travel, including car-coops and safe ride-sharing Car Stops.”

Those intentions and dozens of others are included in the city’s Active Transportation Plan, completed in 2010. The plan defines active transportation as “all forms of human-powered transportation modes, including walking and cycling and variants such as small-wheeled transport and wheelchair travel.”

The Active Transportation Plan deals mostly with walking, cycling, and snow removal. At council’s meeting on October 9, large portions of it will be incorporated into the OCP.


The proposed OCP’s Cycling and Trail Routes map shows an extensive network of cycling routes throughout the city. Most of them are designated as already existing routes. However, on the street, those existing routes are not yet indicated by signage or any other means.

According to the Active Transportation Plan, bicycle routes will be indicated by signs and by graphics on the pavement. Parking will be restricted on bike routes to create room for cyclists.


The new OCP’s Walking Trail Routes map shows planned trail improvements mostly related to Cottonwood Creek and the waterfront, and sidewalk improvements in various parts of the city including View St., the pedestrian-popular route between Uphill and L.V. Rogers Secondary School.

Snow removal not included

The Active Transportation Plan contains detailed guidelines for snow removal and ice control, setting out priority routes and activities, but none of those will be incorporated into the OCP because, according to City Planner Dave Wahn, snow removal is a matter of day-to-day city operations rather than a new initiative or plan. He says the city will attempt, over time, to have city staff carry out the snow and ice control guidelines outlined in the plan. He said is it a matter of labour issues and staff time.

Depends on funding

Wahn says the cycling and walking parts of the new OCP will be implemented if and when the city receives grant funding to do so. At the moment, he says, “the city has applied for $2.3 million to look at eight or nine different segments of the active transportation plan, both sidewalk and cycling areas, and we will be moving forward on them in a phased manner over several years.”

That grant would be from the federal government’s gas tax program, which gives money to municipalities for sustainability projects.

Many plans

The Active Transportation Plan is just one of several recently developed plans that will be incorporated into the OCP in October. The 2008 OCP called for further planning in many areas, and Wahn says the city has done that in the years since, resulting in the following planning documents, all of which can be found on the city’s website:

  • The Path to 2040 Sustainability Strategy
  • The Downtown Waterfront and Master Plan
  • The Corporate Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan
  • The Community Energy and Emissions Action Plan
  • The Affordable Housing Strategy
  • The Heritage Register
  • The Water Master Plan

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