Federal funding could be on the way for more Edmonton bike lanes, Sohi hints

Bike lane along 106 Street in Edmonton. Vinesh Pratap, Global News

Federal infrastructure minister Amarjeet Sohi has been paying attention to what his former Edmonton city council colleagues have been doing with bike lanes.

Mayor Don Iveson hopes federal green money can help double the size of the $7 million, seven-kilometre bike grid for downtown, by adding another one in Old Strathcona and the university area.

Sohi, in Edmonton for a series of funding announcements, hinted Wednesday that something along those lines is in the works for next spring.

“Our goal is to finalize the long-term plan with in the next number of months,” Sohi said. “Once that is in place, then every municipality will know how much money they’re going to receive from the federal government for the long term.

“Under that, we are seriously exploring how do we support municipalities to build the sustainable modes of transportation, dedicated cycling infrastructure, or other ways to reduce our dependency on the personal automobile.”

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Sohi is looking at an eight- to 10-year time frame. He said 2018 would fit into that schedule, so Edmonton’s second phase of a bicycle network would fit both federal thinking and Iveson’s goal.

“One thing that I stress as a goal is that the piecemeal approach to infrastructure is not something that I’m a fan of. We need to give sustainable. predictable and long-term funding for municipalities so that they can plan for the long term. That is my goal, that’s my desire and that’s what we want to achieve.”

Sohi said it’s still early in the planning stages. The feds are not to the point yet where they know if there will be one large fund, or a smaller one for active transportation to go with the main plan for mass transit. He wants to give municipalities time to plan long term.

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