The District of West Vancouver and Bowen Island Municipality have received more than $800,000 in government funding to improve and expand outdoor trail networks to support active transportation.
The funding is part of the Government of Canada’s and the Province of British Columbia’s plan to invest in local infrastructure during COVID-19, “to meet the needs of communities across the province, enhance quality of life, and support economic recovery.”
In West Vancouver, the money will go toward much-needed upgrades to a section of the popular Baden Powell Trail, and on Bowen Island, the funds will be put toward the construction of a new multi-use pathway that will link the BC Ferries’ terminal to Artisan Square, which is part of a grander cross-island pathway plan.
On Aug. 5, Patrick Weiler, MP for West Vancouver – Sunshine Coast – Sea to Sky Country, and Bowinn Ma, MLA for North Vancouver – Lonsdale, held a press event beside the Baden Powell Trail in West Vancouver to announce the federal and provincial governments were investing more than $875,000 in the two projects through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program’s new COVID-19 Community Resilience Stream. The North Shore politicians were there on behalf of Catherine McKenna, the federal minister of infrastructure and communities, and Josie Osborne, B.C.’s minister of municipal affairs.
“Active transportation is all about harnessing the power of human activity to find quick, affordable, and healthy ways to move around our communities,” Weiler said in a release.
The rugged Baden Powell Trail – which stretches over 40 kilometres and connects municipalities and regional parks from Horseshoe Bay all the way to Deep Cove in North Vancouver – will be restored between Bonnymuir Drive west to Craigmohr Drive to improve users’ comfort and safety and to ensure long-term sustainability.
The work includes regrading and resurfacing the trail, installing new steps, re-establishing eroding sections, grubbing and clearing and installing drainage.
Mary-Ann Booth, District of West Vancouver Mayor, said collaborating with stewardship groups and other levels of government to maintain and enhance West Vancouver’s natural areas was one of council’s priorities.
“As our lives become busier, leading an active lifestyle and having connections with nature are more important than ever,” she said.
“The Baden Powell Trail is a popular trail for our residents and visitors to the community. This funding for improvements to the trail will make the experience much more enjoyable for everyone.”
On Bowen Island, the funding will go towards the construction of a 1.4-kilometre multi-use path to link the BC Ferries’ terminal to Artisan Square, alongside the main road, and a retaining wall which will be built to separate motorized vehicles from the path users. The path is part of Phase 2 of the municipality’s transportation plan for a cross-island multi-use path, which finally got started earlier this year after years of delays.
BIM plans to build the entire path, intended to be an extension of the North Shore's Spirit Trail, in seven phases over the next 15 to 20 years, depending on technical requirements and funding.
Gary Ander, Mayor of Bowen Island, said the multi-use path is the “cornerstone” of the island’s transportation plan to make walking and cycling around the island safer and easier.
“Roads on the island are built to a rural standard with little or no shoulders and pedestrians and cyclists are usually forced into traffic lanes for part or all of their trip,” he said in a release.
“The multi-use path is an important step in the municipality’s commitment to realizing Vision Zero – to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries through safe, healthy and equitable mobility for all.”
Weiler added that through collaboration with provincial and municipal partners, "projects like these are creating more healthy, inclusive, and livable communities."
Canada is contributing over $700,000, and B.C. is contributing $175,000 toward the two projects.
-- With files from Bowen Island Undercurrent
Elisia Seeber is the North Shore News’ Indigenous and civic affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.