Plans for a new 1.6-kilometre multi-use trail along the Trans-Canada Highway near the BC Forest Discovery Centre may be back on track.
Mayor Jon Lefebure intends to bring the issue back to council for reconsideration after council decided on June 20 to cancel the tender process for the construction of the trail in 2018 due to a shortfall of $334,100 for a project that was originally budgeted to cost $972,000.
Council members can bring issues and initiatives that have been turned down back to council for reconsideration if they see merit in them, and Lefebure intends to bring the multi-use trail issue back to council at its next meeting on Aug. 15.
The province’s BikeBC Fund announced last year that North Cowichan would receive $472,000 to expand cycling lanes, and the funding was expected to cover almost half the costs of the trail, with North Cowichan picking up the rest of the bill.
Lefebure said the grant would be lost to the municipality if it didn’t move forward with the project.
“It’s not often that we refuse grants,” he said.
“I thought it was worthwhile to have another staff report prepared and more consideration given to this trail project to make absolutely sure that we’re making the right decision. I’m not entirely fixed on the project myself, but I felt it was worth more discussion.”
Lefebure said that with the new hospital to be built in the nearby Bell McKinnon Road area, and with the growing demand for more trails in the community, he doesn’t want the decision not to move forward with the trail to be something council would regret at a later date.
The new trail would run from the Dike Trail Terminus to Drinkwater Road East, and would be intended to create a safe cycling and pedestrian connection along the highway.
Council decided to cancel the tender process for the project in the 2018 budget at its meeting on June 20 due to the cost overruns, and staff were directed at the time to prepare recommendations on other bike network projects for council to consider in 2018.