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Edmonton council approves $100M for bike infrastructure across city

Click to play video: 'Edmonton budget: Funds approved for bike lanes, Metro LRT expansion'
Edmonton budget: Funds approved for bike lanes, Metro LRT expansion
Edmonton city council voted on a number of motions for the 2023-2026 capital budget Friday, including more funds for bike lanes and to begin work on eventually expanding the Metro Line LRT further north. Sarah Komadina was at city council and has more on the items that did not make the cut – Dec 9, 2022

Edmonton city council approved $100 million to implement a bike plan over four years during Friday’s budget deliberations.

The plan aims to address gaps in the existing biking infrastructure. Council chose one out of four options that focuses on near-term priorities and areas with high bike trip potential.

Officials said this could look like strengthening the network in the downtown and south-central areas, extending the network to the south-central, west-central and east-central areas, and providing stronger district connector routes to the northside via 127 Street, 97 Street and Fort Road.

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The motion passed 9-4 with councillors Tim Cartmell, Sarah Hamilton, Karen Principe and Jennifer Rice voting in opposition.

Though she voted against the plan, Ward sipiwiyiniwak Coun. Hamilton said while framing the debate as “bikes versus cars” stokes rage amongst Edmontonians, it’s actually about having the freedom to choose from multiple transportation options.

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“It’s about being able to wake up in the morning on a snowy day and not being absolutely ‘dread-struck’ that you have to get in your car and sit in traffic for an hour and 45 minutes because the roads are a mess — you can take transit,” said Hamilton.

“Optionality is fundamental in building a city people want to live in and stay in, and grow in.”

Click to play video: 'Edmonton city planners on building better suburbs'
Edmonton city planners on building better suburbs

Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said investing in active transportation like bike lanes saves lives and is essential to reaching net-zero emissions.

He also said bike infrastructure could allow families to get rid of one of their household vehicles.

“It ties into affordability directly,” he said.

“I don’t know why we’re spending hours and hours talking about something that’s so fundamental,” Sohi added.

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Ward tastawiyiniwak Coun. Principe said she went to every door in her riding while campaigning — except for apartment buildings — and didn’t hear widespread support for bike infrastructure.

“I have a very good idea of what people in my ward want,” she said of the north-central ward’s residents.

“Maybe it’s because they were farther away from the core, but they were not very supportive of bike lanes.”

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Edmonton city council, administration at odds over climate projects in proposed budget

Council spent the day moving funds around in the proposed 2023-2026 Budget.

They axed a project that would see supportive housing built at the Walker Fire Station in southeast Edmonton, freeing up $2.5 million.

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The councillors also took away $3.8 million for technology to detect LRT tunnel intruders, though didn’t cancel the project outright.

Also among the changes was an additional $53 million towards energy retrofits of city facilities, $10 million for Chinatown infrastructure improvements, and $22.9 million for the planning, design and delivery of affordable housing.

The full list of amendments can be read online.

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The bike infrastructure will be installed in a variety of methods. While some will be standalone retrofits, others will be included as part of neighbourhood renewal projects.

In Edmonton’s Bike Plan, the city said up to 678 kilometres of bike routes have been identified.

Nearly 300 kilometres are district connector routes, routes that cyclists would take between neighbourhoods. Another 390 are routes that are meant to be used within a neighbourhood.

Budget deliberations continue until Dec. 16.

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Edmonton begins to open shared streets and mobility lanes

 

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