It’s budget season! Municipalities are starting to release draft operating and capital budgets for the 2020 fiscal year. We’ll be posting our analysis of both the 2019 budgets and the draft 2020 budgets for Waterloo Region municipalities as they’re released. Find them all on our Budget Advocacy page.
The Region of Waterloo is responsible for an extensive network of roads, including some of the most direct routes to get around, particularly for those with longer commutes. But many of them are wide, with high speed limits, which makes safe cycling infrastructure on regional roads really important. We also need safe crossings where our best cycling facilities—such as the Iron Horse and Spur Line Trails—cross regional roads.
Read on to see how cycling fared in the Region’s 2019 budget and what’s coming up in the 2020 budget.
Region of Waterloo’s 2019 budget
It has been difficult to discern the significance to cycling of many items in the Region’s 2019 budget. Our election pledge called for $7.7 million in spending per year. What we saw in the budget was $8.4 million. Hopefully, going forward we will be better able to report on how that money is being spent wisely toward a coherent minimum grid of safe cycling infrastructure.
|Active transportation engineer new hire||$101,000|
|Iron Horse Trail Improvements||$500,000|
|Active Transportation with Reconstruction and Major Rehabilitation: |
• Ottawa St – Pattandon Ave. to Imperial Dr
• Highland Rd – Fischer‐Hallman to Highland Hills Mall
• Swan St – Hilltop to Stanley and Northumberland/Stanley – St Andrew to CP Railway
• Ottawa St S – Fischer‐Hallman to 100m W of Trussler
• King St – railway tracks to Central and Erb, King to 100m E of Caroline
|Infill Active Transportation Constructed as Separate Projects: |
• Waterloo Protected pilot
• Homer Watson multi-use pathway (MUP)
• Lackner – Ottawa to Keewatin
• Lackner – Zeller to Ottawa
• Erbsville – Keats Way to 200m south of Keats Way
• Courtland at Stirling
• Lancaster – Bridgeport to Bridge
|Highland Road widening||$500,000|
|Health Benefits of Active Transportation study||$10,000|
|Pedestrian & Cycling Countermeasures||$280,000|
|Active Transportation improvements during Rural Resurfacing projects: Sawmill Rd and Gingerich Rd||$565,000|
Without a doubt, the most significant improvement of the past year in the Region is the protected bike lane pilot in Waterloo, almost completed in 2019. The signalized crossing of Bridgeport by the Forwell Trail was also a Regional project. The multi-use path along Homer Watson is a very significant addition and should be finished early in the spring. We’re not really sure of the breakdown of who is funding what for the Iron Horse Trail but the wider surface and new lighting on parts are very welcome changes, also to be finished in the spring.
We are not sure of the significance of many other projects on the list, but perhaps those reading will recognize a local street and can comment on it.
We are actively engaged with Regional staff to get better insight into projects and their status going forward. We are emphasizing the need to provide safe connections and fill in gaps.
Region of Waterloo’s 2020 budget
|Bridgeport Road/Caroline Street: King Street to Erb Street||$100k|
|Dundas Street: Franklin Blvd to Hespeler Road||$150k|
|Highland Road: Fischer-Hallman Road to Highland Hills Mall entrance||$77.5k|
|Notre Dame Drive: Erb’s Road to St. Ann Avenue||$205k|
|Ottawa Street North: Nottingham Avenue to King Street and Weber Street from Sheldon Avenue to Borden Avenue||$230k|
|Sawmill Road: River Street to Snyders Flats Road||$425k|
|Victoria Street North: Kitchener/Woolwich Boundary to Bruce Street||$3.6M|
|Weber Street: Blythwood Road to Northfield Drive||$215k|
|Weber Street: Forwell Creek Road to Blythwood Road||$820k|
|Hespeler Road at Highway 401 cycling facility||$1.9M|
|King Street East: Freeport Bridge to Freeport Hospital entrance||$110k|
|Lackner Blvd: Ottawa Street North to Victoria Street North||$950k|
|Listowel Road: Timber Trail to Arthur Street||$450k|
|Study: New pedestrian bridge over the Speed River (Preston)||$450k|
|Bleams Road at Fischer-Hallman Road||$75k|
|Erb Street: Gateview Drive/Beechwood Drive to Erbsville Court and Ira Needles Blvd to Wilmot Lane||$400k|
|Franklin Blvd: Myers Road to Highway 401||$3M|
|Highland Road West: Highland Hills Mall entrance to Ira Needles Blvd||$250k|
|South Boundary Road: Water Street to Franklin Blvd||$910k|
The total spending for 2020 is impressive and well above our election pledge. It includes some exciting projects such as the new multi-use path along Victoria Street North. We are optimistic that in the coming year we will enrich our engagement with regional staff, including the new Active Transportation senior engineer, to ensure the Region is working toward a grid of safe, connected infrastructure.
What you can do to help get adequate funding for cycling infrastructure in Waterloo:
- Send a thank you message to your regional councillor, to all of them, or to the Regional Chair, to let them know you appreciate the investments in cycling and trails!
- Fill out the EngageWR survey on the protected bike lane project (along University Avenue, Columbia Street, King Street, Albert Street and Erb Street).
- Join our mailing list to ensure you get calls to action in 2020 such as showing up at council for important decisions.
Think we missed something? Send your comments and feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.