Community planning is the base for future trails

As The Mayor Sees It With District of Barriere Mayor Bill Humphreys

At the last Committee of the Whole meeting during the parks report there was an item that said “Communities in Bloom went well for the most part, aside from some tough judges.”  I am not sure about the tough judges part, but I can say that they did ask some interesting questions, as did a few members of the public that follow the development of our community.

For example, the judges said that they were told the District had a trails plan.  The District does indeed have a plan in place for trails and walkways, and the plan has different levels of priority for those proposed trails.

Some of you may remember that the District received a grant from the Union of BC Municipalities and the BC Recreation & Parks Association (BCRPA), through the Community Planning Grant Program, to prepare an Active Transportation Plan. In 2009 Urban Systems formulated a comprehensive trails plan in the downtown core.

There were public consultations around the idea. Interested residents, business owners, and other stakeholders such as the school district, BC Ministry of Transportation & Infrastructure, Chamber of Commerce, and seniors groups were invited to attend a Community Walkabout and Stakeholder Workshop on June 29, 2009. The Community Walkabout was intended to identify potential opportunities and constraints, primarily along Barriere Town Road.

During the Communities in Bloom discussions some folks mentioned our recent grant for the “Barriere River Trail Network Project” and asked how that fit into the overall plan. As luck would have it I had just looked at the 2009 Community Park Multi-Use Greenway Network Plan, around the active transportation issue so my answer was that the so named “Barriere River Trail Network Project” was loosely a portion of the secondary trails identified in the plan from 2009.

A discussion happened later with a few people around why the District would be pursuing the secondary portions of the plan when the primary pathways had not yet been completed.

One of these identified primary pathways was the proposed plan for a pathway that would extend the now existing path running parallel to Barriere Town Road further along behind the Health and Retirement Centres connecting to Barriere Town Road next to the “proposed District Hall.” Yes, even in 2009 there was a proposed District Hall on Barriere Town Road.

Anyway, the point here is that the question posed was if the District and local residents did all the work and spent the money to create a plan for walkways in the downtown core why was it not being followed in a logical order and primary pathways finished first?

If we extend and finish the primary walkway in question it would get pedestrians, bikes and scooters off the main street and allow safe access to the Seniors Centre, the Health Centre, the Community Garden and the library, as well as Fadear Park which has a walking oval and the bandshell. Plus, this path links to a crosswalk leading to the shopping mall were AG Foods, IDA Drugs, a salon, a Royal Lepage realtor and lawyer’s office are located.

Does it not make more sense to complete this identified primary pathway in the downtown core rather than trying to build a secondary pathway in the park?

Interesting questions to be sure, and brings us back to the need to try and stick to a properly documented development plan for our community.

A few years back we spent public funds and asked people to give up some of their time to give their considered opinions. It was suggested by some that perhaps we need to respect these valuable contributions, not just go off on a tangent.

Getting back to Communities in Bloom. I want to say thanks once again to all those that work so hard each year with the planning and other tasks that allow the process to come together. As we go forward the lessons we learn from the judges’ comments and suggestions will serve to give focus to our community planning,  and having beautiful gardens around town is never a bad thing.

It was great to see so many participants up at Soccer Quest again this year. Kudos to those that make this happen.