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CRD OKs $53.5M to widen and light busiest parts of Galloping Goose and Lochside

Widening will allow separate paths for cyclists and pedestrians. Selkirk Trestle to Grange Road on Galloping Goose; Switch Bridge to McKenzie/Borden on Lochside.

The Capital Regional District Board is about to shed a little light on its trail system after unanimously approving a $53.5 million regional trails widening and lighting project.

The board voted to borrow $50 million and accelerate the program to have it included in its 2024-28 financial plan.

“This, as board members know, has been a long time coming,” said Dean Murdock, chair of the board’s transportation committee.

Murdock noted Wednesday’s decision also allows the board to continue to explore the possibility of senior levels of government contributing to the project.

“It’s a good problem to have — we’ve got extremely high volumes of users on our trail system, and that’s growing on a regular basis. And in order to meet that demand we’re going to need to make some improvements that make it safer and more comfortable for folks to get around on that trail system,” he said.

The project will widen and light the busiest parts the Lochside and Galloping Goose trails, while renewing crucial infrastructure, such as the Selkirk, Brett Avenue and Swan Lake trestles.

The plans, under discussion since 2021, stalled because of lack of funding from senior governments.

Murdock noted the upgrades are needed now to handle the number of people using the trail system everyday.

The CRD estimates the busiest sections of the Galloping Goose and Lochside regional trails see as many as 3,750 users on any given summer day, and now believes the projected 4,500 daily users expected by 2040 could happen much sooner.

An updated CRD estimate sees a 2.5 per cent increase each year, and suggests the Galloping Goose Regional Trail section between Selkirk Trestle and Switch Bridge could see 5,900 users per day by 2040.

Without changes, user conflict is likely to increase, a CRD report said.

The plan is to widen and light the busiest sections of the ­Galloping Goose, from the Selkirk Trestle to Grange Road, and the Lochside trail between the Switch Bridge near Uptown and McKenzie Avenue/Borden Street.

Those sections would be expanded to 6.5 metres wide with separate lanes for pedestrians and cyclists.

While the project was unanimously approved, director Gary Holman from the Salt Spring Island electoral district stirred debate by trying to amend the motion to include borrowing an additional $4 million to ensure the electoral districts — largely left out of benefits of the trail improvements – would get some funding for active transportation projects.

The attempt was defeated.

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