Staff writer – May 14, 2013 01:00 AM
Thank you Ronna-Rae Leonard for opposing the adoption of the phased development agreement that gives Buckstone Investments Ltd an alternate route option for an off-site trail in South Courtenay. It appears you understand the effects a seemingly insignificant diversion of a bike path can have on its overall usefulness. By directing potential cyclists from the Buckstone development to a meandering oceanside pathway, this agreement dissuades people from using the pathway for practical purposes, such as commuting to work, shopping or general travel into town.
Firstly, it is important to understand that the Courtenay Riverway, while being a wonderful recreational trail, is not the most efficient or practical transportation route for cyclists. In some short trip cases it is useful, but in general, it is a winding path separated from the majority of businesses by an extremely busy and unpleasant road called Hwy 19A/Cliffe Ave. If one lived in the Buckstone developement and wanted to shop at Quality foods or elsewhere in the mall, one would have to cross Hwy 19A once near Beachwood Road, to access the Courtenay Riverway, and then again somewhere near 29th or 26th Street to access the mall. Keep in mind there is no formal connections at 29th or 26th to the Riverway, nor is there an efficient way to cross Cliffe Avenue. If you want to encourage people to use alternative transportation, it needs to be relatively efficient! If it is out of the way and difficult to access is, people will almost always choose to drive a car.
On the other hand, the Rails With Trails path offers a very flat and more direct path to smaller connecting roads with reasonable access to Walmart, The Mall, and Downtown. This trail has the potential for Buckstone residents to connect with Anfield Rd, Kilpatrick Ave, and the Fitzgerald Avenue Bike path - all more safe and comfortable to navigate than the five lanes of Cliffe Avenue.
In closing I must point out that is no great feat in itself to create 300 building lots in South Courtenay, nor is it worth bragging about. Subdivisions on the outskirts of town with sewer and water are hardly new and frankly, I don’t think our grandkids will applaud us. What might more likely impress them are sustainable developments that include efficient alternative transportation options, building codes for energy efficient homes, public spaces that encourage community interaction, and infrastructure plans that don’t burden them with huge funding shortfalls. It may seem like a small insignificant allowance so that a developer can save a few bucks on a path, but it represents a much greater failure to plan for the future. I hope Ronna-Rae’s wisdom spreads.
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