UXBRIDGE: Councillor Dave Barton recently gave a presentation to council regarding a provincial grant program that can help fund active transportation and cycling projects.
“I’ve been encouraging council to support this idea because it makes financial sense for us,” Councillor Barton said.
The grant program pays for up to 80 per cent of active transportation or cycling projects and requires the town to budget for it in 2018.
On the 'requested items for consideration' list, the active transportation plan was listed as a $20,000 budget item, which if approved, could give the town up to $80,000 in grant money.
The budget item was previously dismissed by councillors, but, they referred Barton’s presentation to an upcoming budget meeting at the end of the month, where they can vote to bring the $20,000 budget item back to the table for reconsideration.
Councillor Barton said, “We have such limited resources here in Uxbridge, so if we can use someone else’s money to do a project we are planning on doing anyway, it makes complete sense to me.”
Trail improvements, multi use paths, new sidewalks, and bike lanes can all receive funding from the Active Transportation Plan if it is approved for 2018.
The provincial program recently saw an increase in funding from $42.5-million to $85-million in 2017, due to an increased interest from municipalities and the quality of their submissions.
$3.2-million worth of projects in the Durham Region were approved by the province in 2017, but Uxbridge didn’t receive any of that money because the town never budgeted or applied for any of the grant money.
Councillor Barton stated, “We missed out on a huge opportunity already and I want to make sure we don’t do it again.”
Neighbouring municipalities like Scugog have adopted the plan, with a total of $115,000 worth of projects budgeted for in 2018.
Councillor Barton believes this plan is something that is needed in Uxbridge, and will bring great improvements to the town.
Some of the things he would like to do with the plan are put bike racks in downtown Uxbridge, create active transportation pathways between various trails and places, as well as get hard packed gravel for the new dog park to the Quaker Trail.
Moving forward, if the plan does get adopted, Councillor Barton would like to assemble a task force of three to seven people who can dedicate their time towards active transportation in Uxbridge. The initial focus would be on projects that allow school children and their families to safely walk, skateboard, scooter, or bike to school from community centres or sports fields.
Councillor Barton said, “For me this is all about people riding their bikes to school, people riding their bikes to soccer games, to avoid people driving cars, which is exactly what this grant is all about.”
Councillors will vote on whether to bring the budget item back to the table at a budget meeting later this month.
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