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Gold River proceeding on Active Transportation Plan

Village potentially looking into bicycle library, infrastructure upgrades

The Village of Gold River is on the way to making it easier for walkers, rollers and cyclists to commute and get around with an upcoming Active Transportation Plan.

The draft plan is now public and has been made available on the village website. This is the result of over a year of preparation. The village first applied for provincial grant funding in October 2022. After the funding was secured, the village put out a call for proposals and awarded the contract for the project to Urban Systems in early 2023. The project was launched in the summer of 2023, and since then there have been a few citizen and stakeholder engagement opportunities, including a survey, a pop-up event and conversations with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, Island Health and the RCMP.

The plan will be the first such plan for the village, though there has been some work done on active transportation in the past through different programs. Through the survey, the village learned that “walking is a very popular mode for all trips, and the village has a well-developed pedestrian network of sidewalks, trails and crossings.”

However, people surveyed would like to see improvements in lighting along routes as a way to keep non-automotive transportation safe 24 hours a day, and throughout the year. Wildlife safety was a concern as well, and community members said that the lack of a transit option to Campbell River was a “significant gap.”

“Without reliable transportation along Highway 28, residents must be able to drive to destinations outside of Gold River.”

Travel to Campbell River is necessary for many Gold Riverites. The nearest grocery store to Gold River is in Campbell River. The Strathcona Regional District has made listed transportation as an area of focus for their strategic plan, in which it says the district will “identify and consider transportation initiatives that safely move people, goods and services between our communities and beyond.”

Just over 70 per cent of commuting in Gold River is done by vehicle. And active transportation is 16 per cent. Just over half of commutes are under 15 minutes.

According to the draft plan, the village will “work with the SRD to identify regionally significant tranportation improvements … and partner on joint projects that align with the ATP (Active Transportation Plan).”

Through the online survey, Gold Riverites identified three major challenges to active transportation in the community. The survey, which was available online between October 18 and November 16, 2023, had 39 responses. They said that the steep topography is one of the biggest challenges to walking in the community, as was poor lighting and the lack of sidewalks and trails, as well as inclement weather and personal safety. For cycling, the challenges were inclement weather, steep topography, lack of safe bicycle infrastructure and lack of secure bike parking.

Respondents also listed their top priorities, which includes improving road safety, improving health, reducing emissions and providing more transportation choices.

The draft plan also has a list of potential actions, which if approved would include a community bicycle library.

Since the plan is a draft, there is another chance for people to have their say. An online survey is open until April 5, 2024.

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