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Cycling advocates disappointed by Halifax’s delay for infrastructure

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The Halifax Cycling Coalition, which advocates for cycling safety, is not impressed with delays in promised infrastructure upgrades by the municipality.

The cycling connection to the Macdonald Bridge on the Halifax side, previously expected to be completed in 2022, will be delayed to 2024 according to Halifax Regional Municipal Council.

Peter Zimmer, the chair of the coalition and an avid cyclist, says he is tired of playing the waiting game.

“We’ve heard that over and over and over again and we’re concerned that they’re ignoring their own policies and their own commitments,” he told Global News.

In 2017, regional council directed staff to implement changes that make it possible for people of all ages and abilities to access the Macdonald Bridge Bikeway.

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The previously agreed-to bridge flyover design is subject to a further engineering assessment at a cost of $133,500.

According to David MacIsaac, the active transportation manager for HRM, a variety of factors including budget, supply chain issues and internal labour shortages are to blame for the delay.

“It’s been more work than we thought it was going to be. Anytime you’re in the process of working with the existing right of way there’s a lot of steps that you need to go through,” says MacIsaac.

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Zimmer says the new proposed deadline is unacceptable and the Halifax Cycling Coalition is calling on the government to provide interim solutions.

“Painted bikes lanes, they might as well not exist. There is no barrier there. A car can swing into the lane at any point,” he says.

The federal and provincial governments have directed funding towards constructing cycling infrastructure in Halifax so that currently, the city is only paying 17 per cent of the cost of updates to the cycling network.

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This federal and provincial financial support is due to expire in 2024 but Coun. Waye Mason says the federal funding will still be put to use.

The remaining safeguards outlined in the cycling network are now proposed to be completed in 2028 and not 2024.

“We’re not going to leave any of that money on the table, but the bad news is that the top-level estimate to finish the network to the standard that we want by 2028 is going to cost substantially more than the federal funding and that is currently unfunded by the municipality,” Mason says.

Mason says new partnerships will need to be made with the federal and provincial governments to meet the new deadline.

Otherwise, the city will “chip away” with municipal funds until the project is completed.