CRD gets federal gas tax money for PCMP implementation

Finally announced, the CRD recently received $780,950 from the Government of Canada’s Gas Tax Fund transfer to implement various part of the Capital Regional District’s (CRD) recently completed Pedestrian and Cycling Master Plan (PCMP). The full announcement can be found on the Canada News Centre or from the CRD’s 2013 Media Releases.

Excitingly, this means a whole series of pilot projects for all the “E”‘s from the PCMP, including Engineering aka infrastructure such as:

Bike activated warning signals
Such as HAWK beacons

HAWK signal
HAWK signal (Image credit: Wikipedia)

Advisory bike lanes (Minneapolis has a few)

Advisory Bike Lane in Minneapolis
Advisory Bike Lane in Minneapolis (Photo credit: City of Minneapolis)

Traffic calming for bike boulevards

Traffic barrier at Haultain and Shelbourne
Traffic barrier at Haultain and Shelbourne (Personal photo)


Other engineering projects include solar-powered signage, automated count stations, and secure lock-up systems that support dual-mode trips such as cycling and transit. The “soft” E’s including Education and Encouragement, Enforcement, Evaluation aren’t left behind either. Should be fun times!

(Full Disclosure: I work for CRD Regional & Strategic Planning and am the Bicycle Count Coordinator for the CRD)

All You Need to Know About Stormwater Runoff

Bike lane with bioswale on Shelbourne
Bike lane with bioswale on Shelbourne

Courtesy of Sightline Daily, which is from the similarly-named Sightline Institute out of Seattle, everything you need to know about stormwater:

An overflow of 15 million gallons of sewage and stormwater fouls the shoreline of picturesque Port Angeles, putting the waterfront off limits to the residents and visitors of the Olympic Peninsula town due to health concerns.

Portlanders are socked with some of the nation’s highest water utility rates in order to pay for the city’s $1.4 billion “Big Pipe” projects.

Northwest scientists document coho salmon dying in urban streams with their bellies full of eggs, perishing before they can spawn.

The culprit in each of these stories is the most mundane of villains: the rain. As rainwater streams off roofs and over roadways and landscaped yards, it mixes a massive toxic cocktail. It scoops up oil, grease, antifreeze, and heavy metals from cars; pesticides that poison aquatic insects and fish; fertilizers that stoke algal blooms; and bacteria from pet and farm-animal waste. A heavy rainfall delivers this potent shot of pollutants straight into streams, lakes, and bays—threatening everything from tiny herring to the region’s beloved orcas to our families’ health.

Given we are still stalled on the Uplands sewage separation, let alone any sort of treatment of our stormwater, I think fixing this problem is a long time coming. That being said, the CRD has been pretty successful with their source control projects and have some good information about bioswales, both designed to prevent all those pollutants mentioned above from getting into the storm drains in the first place.

UVic seeks input on Cedar Hill X Rd lands

A former potential site of sewage treatment, now under study. Image courtesy CRD Natural Areas Atlas

UVic Sustainability has finally decided to develop a plan for the Cedar Hill X Rd. lands. Yes, those same lands that the CRD considered for a Saanich East/Oak Bay sewage treatment/pumping plant earlier this year. (For reference, it is outlined in yellow to the right). Like most areas, there are a lot of interested parties, including dog walkers, UVic Facilities, UVic Forest Biology, and the local community. Some of those users don’t see eye to eye, so balancing those conflicted needs should be interesting.

This isn’t the first time a plan has come up for the site, although it seems that everybody but UVic has been involved. Proposed for the site in 2009 was a “UVic School of Agriculture” by the Campus Urban Agricultural Collective (Facebook page). At the time the draft plan under discussion was but an apple in the eye of then-UVic (now CRD) Sustainability Coordinator Sarah Webb, as she mentioned the Marlet in a story about the CUAC. Earlier this year the Food Not Lawns Collective co-opted that idea and dumped it into their manifesto (as they dug up the lawn in front of the library, possibly killing all their credibility in the process).

Disappointingly, the plan doesn’t talk at all about the road immediately adjacent, which includes parking in the area, or of better pedestrian access. Currently Cedar Hill X Rd. has a number of problems: too wide, lack of sidewalks on the north side, lack of bike lanes, and its use as overflow parking from UVic, the Rec Centre, both golf courses, and Emmanuel Baptist Church. Yes, the road is under the control of Oak Bay, but that shouldn’t stop UVic from making a stronger statement. And Oak Bay should listen. After all, they are the adjacent land owner and we go to great pains to query other adjacent land owners when we put in improvements like bike lanes. Observe the recent bike lane work on the other side of Cedar Hill X Rd.

However, I am cautiously optimistic. The drop dead date for getting your comments into UVic is November 26th. You can read more at the UVic Sustainability Planning site.

Tune-up your transportation with SustainableU

The SustainableU people (an interesting mix of the CRD, BC Hydro, Walmart, and others) are hosting a series of workshops this fall on transportation and how people’s choice affect the environment and their community. As they say

Leave with the tools and information to deliver presentations and spread the word to your peers. We equip you with a toolkit and the knowledge to capture any audience – from drivers to walkers – in any sort of setting.

The seminars, two hours long, are free, and there are a lot of them. Take a look:

Tuesday, November 2 Camosun College Lansdowne Campus – Young Building, Room 310 4-6pm
Thursday, November 4 Uvic Campus – David Strong Building Room C103 12-1:50pm
Tuesday, November 9 CRD Headquarters, Room 107 12-2pm
Wednesday, November 10 620 View Street, Room 517(Victoria Car Share Co-op) 5:30-7:30pm
Saturday, November 13 Saanich Commonwealth Place, Cedars Room 9:30-11:30am
Tuesday, November 16 Camosun College Interurban campus, Liz Ashton Campus Centre Building, Room 122 4-6pm
Tuesday, November 16 Gordon Head Recreation Centre, Feltham Room 5:30-7:30pm
November 21
Esquimalt Recreation Centre, 527 Fraser Street 10-12pm
Tuesday, November 23 CRD Parks Cedar Room 2-4pm
Wednesday, November 24 Learning and Career Centre (Naden 136) 8:30-10:30am
Thursday, November 25 Pearkes Recreation Centre 5:30-7:30pm
November 29
Esquimalt Recreation Centre, 527 Fraser Street. Pioneer Hall A 7-9pm

The idea is to “teach the teachers”, as it were. The workshop attendees go out and get people in the community to voluntarily pledge to reduce the amount of driving they do, which isn’t exactly a new idea — albeit one that hasn’t been tried here in the CRD that I know of although I could be wrong — just search for “car diet pledge” or “drive less pledge” to get an idea.

Registration is free and is run through the CRD. Visit the Transportation Tune-up page to learn more. As an incentive, they have laid on a few prizes for participants, bikes, bus passes, and similar items. More you sign up, the more you win. As they put it, “Think of this as an eco-friendly pyramid scheme.”

(h/t to Rita Fromholt from UVic Sustainability for pointing these out)

The new CRD Bike/Ped plan

While some poor CRD staff get to deal with sewage, others are much luckier, working on the new Bike and Pedestrian Master Plan. As was reported in our local rag, the public kick-off events for the plan were earlier this week, although some of us were “lucky” enough to get involved a bit earlier. For my sins I have become part of the Citizen’s Advisory Committee, one of two groups to advise the CRD and it’s consultants.

First up Monday night was a short meet and greet of the aforementioned committed, before the public advocacy session. The committee as a whole totals about 20 people, with representatives from many groups the GVCC, Capital Bike and Walk, Roads, Rails and Trails, Bike to Work Society and others I am surely forgetting. Oak Bay is fairly well represented, with myself, Lesley Ewing and Gerald Smeltzer, who wears dual-hats, both the Oak Bay Bicycle Master Plan core team and the Oak Bay Community Association.

1897 Bicycling Map of Victoria
1897 Bicycling Map of Victoria

The main part of Monday night was actually the public advocacy session, attended by 70+ people from all stripes, although the crowd was heavily tilted toward bicycle advocates, a trend that continued the next day. To start the evening off, Tracy Corbett, Senior Manager of Regional Planning at the CRD, pointed out this isn’t the first bike plan the regiona as a whole has created, showing the 1897 bike route map seen on the right. This is also about the era that bicyclists where leading the fight for paving of roads, something forgotten in the recent celebration of the 100th anniversary of the first concrete road.

But the highlight of the night was a talk by Scott Bricker, Executive Director of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, an Oregon bike advocacy group that has made great strides in making Portland and the rest of Oregon the bicycle-friendly place it is. He stared off by stating the core principles of the BTA:

  1. People like to bike
  2. People don’t like to bike with cars
  3. You need a dense network
  4. The network has to go places (that people want to go)

While obvious on the face it, these core principles evolved to become part of the official Portland Bicycle Master Plan. Beyond core principles, he spoke extensively about to advocate effectively, including such truths that businesses are some of the most effective advocates of bicycling and that you need both the bicyclist in the suit and the more fringe elements some of us would rather go away.

As a wrap up to his talk, he gave a quick top 10 list for what makes a good regional plan:

  1. Engage (the public, businesses, etc.)
  2. Build support from diverse camps
  3. Take the short view (get things done quickly)
  4. Take the long view (think where you want to be 10, 20, 30 years from now)
  5. Take the heat (be out there to support politicians that support you)
  6. Tell the story (stats and stories are both needed)
  7. Be polite and respectful (be thankful)
  8. Be a regional plan (make certain it effects all parts of the region, leave nobody out)
  9. Chase the money (with money, nothing gets built. Be where the money is)
  10. Don’t forget fun

Overall, it was a great night. Thanks to the Road, Rails and Trails people for bringing Scott to Victoria to talk with us. Of course, this was only day one of two for those of us on the citizen’s committee, as well as the Gil Penalosa talk on Tuesday evening at UVic. More on both of those later.

Notes from yesterday’s CRD bike/ped plan launch

The CRD is building a new bike and pedestrian master plan and to get the ball rolling, they hosted a launch & lunch party yesterday and they were kind enough to invite myself, Lesley Ewing and Gerald Smeltzer, all of us on the core team of the Oak Bay bike master plan. The event was well attended, with staff from every municipality save Colwood there, lots of CRD staff, and community activists from the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition, the Saanich Bike/Ped Committee, the sadly non-defunct Parent Advisory Committee for the Safer School Travel Plan as well as us. (Update: Michael Baxter, the engineer from Colwood on the comm., was out of town)

We started off with an excellent lunch in the 6th floor boardroom of the CRD building. You can quite literally see for miles up there. To kick off the presentation portion, Tracey Corbett of CRD’s Regional Planning and View Royal Mayor Graham Hill both spoke briefly. Tracey spoke about how this grew out of the CRD’s Travel Choices work a few years back and Graham gave an excellent overview of the challenges we face, with the “perfect storm” of peak oil, climate change and growing health issues).

After Tracey and Graham, Mira Birk and the Alta Planning + Design team out of Portland, OR, Urban Systems from Vancouver and John Luton, their local advisor, got up to talk about what they were going to do and what tools they brought to the table. They spoke about some of the GIS tools they have developed over the years to look at quality of bike and pedestrian infrastructure and make it easier to plan a complete street. For more information about these tools, Birk gave a talk on the cycle portion at the 2008 ProWalk/ProBike conference.

She went on to make some interesting points of the challenges of planning for bikes and pedestrians, in that most models of transportation don’t yet account for how new bike lanes or sidewalks change travel habits or factor in the health and societal benefits to more people walking and biking. This makes it hard to “sell” these improvements to people educated in the old school of planning for cars and single family homes. She also pointed that until recently few universities in their planning depts had people that could teach the next generation about how to plan for bikes, walking or mixed use development.

So where do we go from here? Hopefully the website will be appearing online shortly, so that most people can learn about the project. There will also be a citizen’s advisory committee and a planners/engineers from each municipality committee. Alta is hoping to finish the 1st phase by the Fall of 2009, with the 2nd and 3rd phases late spring/early summer 2010.

Monday Quick Links

There are a few interesting announcements today from the CRD and the Federal Government regarding communities, planning and green space.

The CRD is looking for people to sit on their Regional Parks citizen advisory panel for the new Regional Parks Strategic Plan. If you are interested, the site has documents with more information and the deadline for applying is June 12th, 2009.

The new CRD Pedestrian and Bicycling Master Plan has its launch event next week. Curiously, it doesn’t have a website yet, so to get a better idea of what this plan with entail, see the Request for Proposals (PDF). The CRD has selected Alta Planning & Design out of Portland to do the initial stages of the work. Alta has done some great work all over the US and Canada and they are very focused on planning for bicycling and walking, so I look forward to they can bring to our great region. The initial report is due this fall with the larger plan including network maps done by Spring 2010.

The federal government also dropped another tiny little bit of money in the bucket today, with a $4.2 million announcement of the EQuilibrium™ Communities Initiative. And yes, they did trademark the name. So sayeth the press release:

The new $4.2- million, EQuilibrium™ Communities Initiative will seek to improve community planning and develop healthy sustainable communities that are energy-efficient, economically viable and vibrant places to live.

Colour me not impressed. $4.2 million is nothing. The new CRD plan above will cost $20,000 – $30,000 just for the inital report with the 2nd and 3rd stages being considerably more. I suspect this might just be a feel good thing for Lisa Raitt, better known the whole Chalk River “sexy” isotopes statement, bad-mouthing a fellow minister on tape and leaving documents behind at a newspaper issue.

(Hattip to the Livable Region Blog in Vancouver for the link)

I am off to council tonight, where the agenda pretty normal. It is the season for block party requests and there are the usual rezoning requests. Also up is a letter from the Oak Bay Marine Group regarding the ongoing saga of the getting the Sea Rescue Society a new boathouse.