Transportation Choices Sunshine Coast (TraC) says it is “paving the way for the construction of a walking and cycling route along Highway 101 from Langdale to Sechelt."
In a Dec. 2 press statement, TraC announced the completion of a preliminary study for the project, which estimates costs to build such a piece of infrastructure could be as high as $125 million.
President of TraC, a non-profit member-based society that promotes active and sustainable transportation alternatives on the Coast, Alun Woolliams, said this work is a first step in helping local governments and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) move forward with planning for the 30-kilometre multi-use path. It has been completed at a time when newly elected local government leaders on the Coast begin debating 2023 budgets and updating of their organizations' five-year capital plans. In addition, MOTI is undertaking a long-term plan for Highway 101 between Gibsons and Sechelt, following a public consultation earlier this year.
“The construction of a walking and cycling path from Langdale to Sechelt will transform the Sunshine Coast in ways it’s hard to imagine today,” Woolliams stated in the release. “We know there’s demand for it. Many people who today say they are afraid to cycle on the highway tell us they’d use a multi-use path in a heartbeat. It’ll open a world of new transportation opportunities for residents.”
“Alternative options to private vehicles, such as walking, cycling, micro-mobility such as e-scooters and public transit, are part of the solution to our traffic challenges on the Sunshine Coast. A walking and cycling path between Langdale and Sechelt will allow people to move safely between communities without further clogging the highway with their cars. And those who don’t have cars will gain greater freedom to get around.”
About the study
The $25,000 study, paid for by a TraC member, put the highway corridor “under a microscope," according to the organization. It plotted road, gas and water lines, hydro poles, bus stops, and land contours. Also included was analysis of potential routes using aerial photography and site visits to identify the best route for a future path.
TraC’s work separated the full route into 25 segments. It identified three segments as high priority for walking and cycling path construction and provided preliminary cost estimates for those portions of the route. The area from Gibsons Way at North Fletcher to Highway 101 at Lower Road was included, which TraC estimated would cost $7.9 million to build. Other areas cited as candidates for early attention included the highway section from Bay Road in Davis Bay to Wharf Avenue, that the group stated would cost about $26.6 million and along Marine Drive between Langdale and School Road, which saw an $0.5 million estimate for path construction.
The detailed study of path potential along the highway corridor was shared with more than 30 community members at an event hosted by TraC in Roberts Creek on Dec. 1. Woolliams said the group's next steps will focus on a feasibility study, public consultation and engagement. At points when construction of sections of the pathways are proposed, he said TraC is prepared to help local government partners in securing federal and provincial funding designated for new active transportation infrastructure projects.
Partnering with others
Sunshine Coast Tourism announced recently that it will continue where TraC’s planning work left off, using a recently awarded federal grant to extend the study for an active transportation route for the section from Sechelt to Lund.
In the TraC release, Sunshine Coast Tourism (SCT) executive director Annie Wise stated “We’re delighted to build on TraC’s initiative. Planning for active transportation infrastructure upgrades will enhance the livability for locals and visitors - offering a healthier, safe, and more sustainable connection to our spectacular region. By improving the experience, we can boost the reputation of the Sunshine Coast as a year-round accessible destination for all modes of active transportation."
Both TraC and SCT noted that similar paths, between Sydney and Victoria and between Ucluelet and Tofino on Vancouver Island, and elsewhere in the province, have become well used by residents and visitors alike.