WATCH: Costs for construction of a one-kilometre section of a multi-use path along the E & N corridor will likely surpass $2 million. April Lawrence reports.
Steve Mullen commutes from Langford to CFB Esquimalt on his bike each day.
Part of his commute takes him along the narrow and winding Atkins Avenue in Langford so news the E & N Rail Trail is being expanded comes as a big relief.
“It’s nice and safe and protected,” he said.
The Capital Regional District (CRD) has received a $1 million grant from the province’s BikeBC program to complete one of the last kilometres of the trail, ultimately connecting Langford to downtown Victoria.
But not everyone is in favour. Some residents are questioning why so many trees have to be torn down to create a separate path when there’s a rail corridor already there that could be transformed.
But Langford’s mayor says the rail corridor needs to be preserved to one day transport mass amounts of people, not just the three per cent of residents who cycle.
“That corridor should never disappear to be one single use for bikes for it,” said Mayor Stew Young. “In the future, we’re going to be better off having all types and modes of transportation so people have a choice,” he said.
Then there are questions about cost — while the grant is for a million dollars it will only cover up to 50 per cent of the project cost, meaning the price tag will likely be more than $2 million.
“It’s a very complicated section of trail, that particular section, it has a lot of railway infrastructure, the slopes through that section are quite challenging,” said CRD Parks Operations Manager Mike MacIntyre.
Millstream Creek also runs through it. The project hasn’t gone to tender so the CRD isn’t sure what the final price will be.
But commuters like Tracy Helmers say it’s worth it.
“If it’s going to keep people safe, so there’s a connection that’s going to keep them off the road and onto the trail yes I think it’s a good thing,” he said.
Work on the section has already started but it will take until fall 2020 to finish.
BikeBC is handing out more than $5 million for cycling infrastructure across Vancouver Island.