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‘This is awesome news’ Sault cyclist says after funding announcement

Sault will receive nearly $600,000 toward creating more cycling lanes on city roads
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The provincial government has awarded Sault Ste. Marie nearly $600,000 in funding to go toward building more bicycle lanes on the city’s streets. 

120 Ontario communities received $93 million in funding from the province in an announcement Monday (an increase from the $42.5 million announced earlier this year) by Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca and Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport Eleanor McMahon, for new bike lanes and other aspects of cycling infrastructure, such as bike racks in public places.

“This is awesome news,” stated Andre Riopel, local cyclist, environmentalist and physiotherapist, in an email to SooToday Tuesday.

“We know that the main reason people do not cycle is that they do not feel safe on the roadway. When cities build cycling facilities, more people cycle and there are fewer cars on the road and we lower health care costs,” Riopel wrote.

The city of Sault Ste. Marie and local cyclists have come together in recent years to write up a municipal Cycling Master Plan (CMP).

“We have accomplished a lot in the past few years and this money will help us accomplish our priorities. We hope to see bike lanes on Northern Avenue in the next year or two. We are also hoping to see a ‘spoke’ from the Hub Trail extending west from Fort Creek to Goulais Avenue. A small bridge needs to be built behind the West End Community Centre to complete that link,” Riopel wrote.

“We lobbied for a path instead of a sidewalk on the south side of Second Line between Old Garden River Road and Great Northern Road. Last week at an open house, the consultant reviewing the project said it was a "no brainer,” Riopel stated.   

“We were very excited to be advised of this grant,” stated Don McConnell, city director of planning and enterprise services, also responding by email to SooToday.

“At this point, we have not yet received the transfer payment agreement (TPA) which will confirm the conditions associated with this funding.”

McConnell said the city originally anticipated receiving approximately $250,000, but with the additional funding provided by the province, the total grant is $580,534.79. 

The city's contribution is $62,500.

In May, council approved an Active Transportation Infrastructure Implementation Strategy, which included potential new on-road cycle lanes, road diets, new off-road paths, and amenities such as bike racks. 

Within the city’s Cycling Master Plan (CMP), there are several streets that could be refitted to accommodate bike lanes, including:

  • Pine Street from Queen Street East to Northern Avenue (3.3 km)
  • North Street from Wellington Street West to Mary Avenue (2.9 km)
  • MacDonald Avenue from Black Road to Pine Street (2.6 km)
  • Queen Street East from the Sault Ste. Marie Golf Club to Dacey Road (3.5 km)
  • Willow Avenue from McNabb Street to Northern Avenue (1.4 km)
  • Lake Street from Queen Street East to Village Court (2.3 km)
  • Korah Road from Wallace Terrace to Henry Street (2.3 km)
  • Willoughby Street/Wawanosh Avenue from Pine Street to Grandmont Crescent (1.6 km)
  • Goulais Avenue from Bonney Street to Second Line West (1.4 km)

That totals 21.3 kilometres of road (42.6 kilometres bi-directional).

“While all of these projects were identified in our application, we were initially focusing on adding on-road cycling lanes to selected streets. At present, in addition to the 24 kilometre Hub Trail, our only on road cycling lanes are the 4 kilometre Queen Street project. As this is a four-year project, the approved funding can be used anytime during this period,” McConnell stated.

A ‘road diet’ involves cutting down the number of under-used vehicular travel lanes and reallocating space to other uses, including on road cycling lanes to increase safety for cyclists.

Potential road diet sites have been identified at:

  • Wellington Street East (Trunk Road to Texas Avenue)
  • Wallace Terrace (Korah Road to Brookfield Avenue)
  • Goulais Avenue (Second Line West to Korah Road)
  • Bennett Boulevard (Texas Avenue to Boundary Road)

The funding for the Sault and other communities province wide, announced in Toronto Monday, comes under the Ontario Municipal Commuter Cycling Progam (OMCC).