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Feds invest $11 million in Vancouver Island cycling and pedestrian infrastructure

Cyclists on University of Victoria's Ring Road Cyclists on University of Victoria's Ring Road
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VICTORIA – The federal government announced Wednesday its plan to invest almost $11 million to support cycling and pedestrian infrastructure improvement projects on Vancouver Island.

At the University of Victoria, close to $2.4 million will go towards active transportation projects within the universities’ Campus Cycling Plan. The money will be spent to create new bike and pedestrian pathways on campus, and add traffic-calming measures at crosswalks on U-Vic’s Ring Road.

The university says the infrastructure improvements will make it safer for the more than 5,000 people who cycle on the campus each day. It says it will also provide better transportation options for people travelling to and from the campus.

“I think the benefit will be safer cycling, which will bring more cyclists,” said University of Victoria President Kevin Hall. “(It) is going to reduce the amount of carbon that we put in the atmosphere by people who typically come here driving their vehicles.”

Hall says by improving pedestrian and cycling infrastructure, the university can offer a better and safer experience when walking or cycling on campus.

“There’ll be less traffic on campus, less cars on campus, so I think its not just good for the university, its good for the region,” said Hall. “We are a city of 26,000 people on any given day, with our students, faculty and staff, so if we can reduce the number of vehicles on the road associated with those people, then it’s a win for the community as well.”

In Victoria, the funding will enhance the city’s All Ages and Abilities cycling network. The funds will go towards the construction of new protected bike lanes, upgraded crossings and the installation of transit shelters along Fort Street.

In a news release, Victoria Mayor Marianne Alto said the improvements will expand safe, affordable and convenient transportation options for residents.

“The route connects people to school, workplaces, recreation and other daily destinations,” said Alto. “Which helps to reduce the cost of living, improve community health and make our neighbourhoods more fun and resilient.”

The federal government is investing in the projects through its Active Transportation Fund. The fund is providing $400 million in funding to make active transportation easier and safer in support of Canada’s National Active Transportation Strategy.

“It’s about enabling opportunities for folks to take advantage of outdoor transportation options both for recreation and to get them out of a car or a bus,” said natural resources minister Jonathan Wilkinson. “It’s about fighting climate change, but it’s but it’s also about providing access to nature for people who live across the Island.”

The $11 million in funding will also enable the Toquaht Nation, Tseshaht First Nation, Hupacasath First Nation and the City of Port Alberni to move forward with active transportation planning. In addition, it will improve active transportation infrastructure like walkways and bike lanes in Saanich, Esquimalt, and Qualicum Beach.

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