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Walcott to seek reprieve for temporary 3 Avenue cycle track

Calgary city councillor Courtney Walcott is pedalling the idea of maintaining the temporary cycle track along 3 Avenue S until a more permanent option can be found.

The matter came to light after the grassroots civic group Project Calgary launched a petition calling for the city to leave the cycle track infrastructure alone. It’s slated for removal after construction work on the Bow River Pathway is completed later this year.

It had been a planned detour to coincide with the construction work in the area.

Project Calgary spokesperson Peter Oliver maintains that the infrastructure laid there was intended to stay around – especially given the need for an east-west corridor, city documents acknowledge the need for permanent infrastructure there.

“In the city’s downtown strategy, we’ve shown where it’s literally identified as a strategic investment in that document. So, it just makes no sense. No sense at all

“It’s been really strange how the city has avoided communication on it. The updates we received don’t provide any rationale.”

The City has said that it was meant to be a temporary solution while the detour was needed for construction. The City of Calgary’s Dennis Hoffart said that they’d need to study the corridor further before determining a more permanent solution.

In the meantime, Ward 8 Coun. Courtney Walcott is pitching the idea of keeping the cycle track in place while that solution is found. He posted about it to Twitter.

“The existing temporary lane was set up as a detour due to River Walk work, and did not get installed as long-lasting permanent infrastructure,” he wrote.

“To turn the existing detour into a permanent installation, design work would need to be funded, plus installation materials and labour.”

Rightful concern from citizens: Coun. Walcott

Walcott appreciates the concern being raised over the cycle track removal. He told LWC that it’s difficult for residents to not have east-west service, to having it, then to it being removed.

“If you’re just a member of the public, you had a relatively safe, easy access where there are easy pathways to cross via bike that didn’t exist before, I think it’s rightful to say that we should probably hold on to that service until we can make a permanent structure,” Walcott said.

“I think that’s a fair thing to pursue.”

Walcott said there are hurdles to seeing this through. First off, it’s determining ownership of the cycle track corridor after it leaves the Eau Claire Area Improvement team. He also understands there are some businesses that are opposed to it staying open, but that it’s typical in these kinds of cycle track conversations, he said.  

Plus, there’s the question of whether 3 Avenue S is the best, safest east-west corridor for cycling. 

He’s hoping to find answers to many of these questions, and have a plan for it to stay, before the end of summer.  That’s when the cycle track infrastructure is set to be removed.

When the City’s Dennis Hoffart spoke with LWC on Tuesday, he said that the 3 Avenue S project wasn’t funded in the current 2023-2026 budget cycle.  He did, however, say that functional planning and a strategic planning would need to be done before a permanent solution is found.

He said a project could be initiated by council, or by following plans and policies that are already in place.

Walcott said at least this situation has sparked a conversation.

“I can’t guarantee anything, but hey, you gotta give power to the community when they get together and bring these issues up,” he said.