Kamloops city council votes down motion looking to have 2021 labelled 'Year of the Cyclist'

Year of the cyclist it is not

This will not be the Year of the Cyclist in Kamloops, as city council Tuesday defeated Coun. Arjun Singh’s alternative transportation motion.

Singh’s motion, originally presented on Dec. 8, would have directed staff to look into the feasibility of several projects that would improve city infrastructure for cycling, walking and other forms of alternative transportation.

The motion also asked staff to look into completing infrastructure improvement projects in the city’s transportation master plan within five years.

At Tuesday’s city council meeting, Singh said the motivation behind the motion was to take steps on concrete actions that would “rally the community” in support of alternative, environmentally friendly transportation.

“The fact of the matter is we have to reduce emissions, we have to have a healthier community,” Singh said.

“Communities time and time again have not made this happen.”

Two members of the public also addressed council, expressing support for the motion.

Many councillors agreed with the spirit of Singh’s motion but expressed concern about its timing.

Coun. Dale Bass asked staff how the measure might impact their workload, especially as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has impacted budget and shifted city priorities.

“I think this is a wonderful idea, but I have some concerns," Bass said. "For example, we’re in the middle of COVID."

Coun. Dieter Dudy had similar concerns, while agreeing the motion is “laudable."

“We’re coming through very trying times,” he said, mentioning as an example some residents having difficulty finding work and suffering economic hardship.

“These are incredibly real concerns that don’t diminish the importance of alternative transportation, but at the same time ... we need to put everything in perspective. We need to be able to see the whole picture, and where things need to go first. In my estimation, we need to be concentrating on recovery, on the health of our community, not just to respect to transportation but with respect to economic drivers.”

Coun. Sadie Hunter said she noticed much of the public support came from people who wanted bike lane infrastructure built in the city.

"My concern is setting up an unrealistic expectation for the many people who communicated with us that if we support this, there will be an amazing infrastructure of bike lanes within five years,” she said.

Coun. Denis Walsh agreed with Singh’s motion, saying it would set momentum for achieving climate action goals.

“If we pass this motion, we will at least start the momentum and this will lead to more conversation, more debate, and more motions that will pass,” Walsh said.

Council ultimately voted to defeat the motion.

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