Kamloops city council has rejected a plan to construct a multi-use pathway along Lansdowne Street next spring, with some councillors concerned about potential traffic impacts and others wondering if alternate routes should be explored instead.
The 670-metre stretch of multi-use path was planned to run along the north side of Lansdowne between Sixth Avenue and Second Avenue.
The intent of the project was to close a gap in the city’s north-south active transportation corridor, connecting cyclists and other users between Rivers Trail and the recently opened bike lane on Sixth Avenue.
City staff proposed building the pathway in coordination with a sewer upgrade planned in 2024 to save costs and reduce construction impact.
Coun. Nancy Bepple, an avid cyclist herself, spoke out in favour of the project.
“The argument that there aren’t cyclists on Lansdowne I don’t think is a reasonable one,” Bepple said, adding she never bikes along that stretch of road even though she’s often cycling through downtown.
“I also never cycled on Sixth [Avenue] before there was the separated bike path on Sixth. So building the infrastructure will give people the opportunity to use it.”
The multi-use path proposal first came before council on Oct. 17, but council delayed making a decision until the City of Kamloops could complete more community engagement to gauge support for the project.
Purvez Irani, the city’s transportation manager, said in the month and a half that followed, more than 900 residents took part in a survey and about 40 people attended a public open house about the project.
Irani said 58 per cent of survey respondents strongly supported or somewhat supported the project. Respondents raised concerns about increased traffic congestion and the narrowing of travel lanes along Lansdowne.
In order to accommodate the 3.1 metre multi-use path and a landscaped buffer, the travel lanes on Lansdowne would be reduced to 3.5 metres in width.
Irani noted Fortune Drive travel lanes are only 3.3 metres wide.
“I just want to give you a sense of confidence that the lane widths we’ve come up with not only meet but exceed design guidelines,” Irani said.
Staff noted a reduction in travel lane width is aligned with research showing narrower lanes can help lower the risks of traffic collisions.
But some councillors said they were concerned with the possible traffic and safety impacts if the project were to go ahead.
Coun. Dale Bass cited ICBC crash statistics for the Lansdowne route, noting she often sees poor drivers around the city.
“There are people who just don't know how to drive. And that’s a lot of accidents for me, and that concerns me,” Bass said. “That's the only reason I would vote against this, because I don't want to see those statistics increase.”
Coun. Bill Sarai noted even if the bike path is separated, there are still different potential areas for confusion and conflict taking into account the number of pedestrians and bus stops in the area.
Councillors suggested looking at St. Paul Street or Seymour Street as an alternative, noting the location for a long-awaited Performing Arts Centre has been identified for Seymour.
Coun. Margot Middleton said although the city would be saving money by tying together bike path construction with the sewer project, she didn't think the best approach is to rush the plan.
"Have alternate routes been really explored?" she asked.
Council voted 6-3 against amending the Transportation Master Plan to include the Lansdowne active transportation pathway.
Bepple, Coun. Kelly Hall and Coun. Stephen Karpuk — all avid cyclists — voted in favour of the pathway.
Coun. Dale Bass, Coun. Bill Sarai, Coun. Mike O’Reilly, Coun. Margot Middleton, Coun. Katie Neustaeter and Mayor Reid Hamer-Jackson voted in opposition.