Halifax transportation advocates applaud mobility report, want stricter timelines

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WATCH ABOVE: Transportation advocates in Halifax say they’re pleased with the newly released Integrated Mobility Plan. Jennifer Grudic reports – Dec 2, 2017

The first draft of Halifax’s highly anticipated Integrated Mobility Plan was published online on Friday, and transportation advocates say they’re pleased overall.

The nearly 200-page document breaks down a number of elements including active transportation, goods movement and parking.

The ultimate goal is to make it easier for people to move throughout the city while reducing the number of single-passenger vehicles on the road.

READ MORE: Halifax Transit ridership down even as it plans for transit-focused future

“Our initial reaction is that, overall, it’s a good plan,” said Kelsey Lane, spokesperson for the Halifax Cycling Coalition.

“It incorporates all the elements that we were asking for in the past, but one thing we really are concerned about is the timeline.”

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Each action item in the report is assigned a time frame of either short, medium or long. Transportation advocates say that many of those actions should, and need to be sped up.

Based on the Regional Plan, Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) set the target that by 2031, at least 30 per cent of trips by residents will be made by either walking, bicycling or transit, with no more than 70 per cent being made by private vehicle.

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Ben Wedge, a spokesperson with the group It’s More Than Buses says one example of where he believes the city could accelerate its plan is in regards to improvements on Robie Street.

“It’s planned to be a bus rapid transit corridor over the course of this plan. It’s predominantly just fresh paint and some signage and a few little changes to the traffic signals” said Wedge.

“Those are things they could really do within five years even within the scope of all the other work they’re achieving.”

He said he believes this latest report has all the elements needed to improve mobility within the municipality.

“It’s well within what the city is capable of and, in fact, they could probably do it a lot faster,” said Wedge.

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“The fear is that this is just another in a long series of road transportation plans that encourages people to walk, bike or take the bus that the city just puts back on the shelf.”

READ MORE: Group proposes light-rail transit system for Halifax

Eliza Jackson, Sustainable Transportation co-ordinator with the Ecology Action Centre, said she was impressed by the robust plans outlined in the report, but said she would like to see more accountability in terms of meeting deadlines.

“They are proposing all of these things but not really setting strict deadlines for when these projects are going to happen on the ground,” said Jackson.

“I think the key thing is that if we really want to see a shift in the way people get around HRM, we really need to shift the resources that we need to get it done as soon as we can.”

The report will be presented to Regional Council at their upcoming meeting on Tuesday.

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