As grant funding gets harder to secure, the Capital Regional District is looking at paying for the trail widening and lighting project’s $14 million price tag, with the help of the taxpayer.
According to the CRD, the Galloping Goose and Lochside trails are getting busier and upgrades need to be done.
On Thursday, about 5,331 people used the Galloping Goose trail just north of the Selkirk Trestle.
Colin Plant, CRD director and board chair, said the narrow trails with that many users are causing too much congestion.
“If we could widen it, it would make it more safe and more accessible to people who perhaps don’t go on it now because they don’t feel safe,” Plant said.
The lack of lighting is also a safety hazard the CRD wants to address.
The estimated cost to do both, on a 6.6-kilometre section of the trail north of the Selkirk Trestle going past Uptown, is about $14 million.
Plant said while there are grant money opportunities, they are getting harder to secure due to increased interest from districts and municipalities.
The CRD is considering a tax levy, that would be would be district-wide to pay for the bill.
Plant said this tax increase wouldn’t be too expensive.
“Given that, for example, we pay about $20 for regional parks and all the benefits they bring, I can’t help but think we are talking an amount smaller than that,” he explained.
Trail users told CHEK News the upgrades need to be done and would be willing to pay a tax, as long as the cost was low.
“We do pay a lot in taxes already so it depends on how big the levy is,” Patrick Doyle said.
Anita Frederickson said nobody really wants another tax, “but if it wasn’t a crazy tax, I’m sure the people who use [the trail] to go back and fourth to would probably [have] a lot of yeses.”
Plant emphasized that tax levy talks are still very preliminary.
CRD staff will present a report suggesting new funding streams for the bike trail upgrades, including a tax increase among other suggestions, in July.
-With files from Kori Sidaway.