$1 million bike path plan


L’ORIGNAL | The united counties of Prescott-Russell will seek $1 million from the federal government to improve bike paths in the region. The counties have offered to cover two- thirds of the cost of a project, if it is ap- proved by Ottawa. The government has ad- vised that while federal funds can cover as much as 50 per cent of costs, priority could be given to work that requires only a one- third contribution from the federal govern- ment. Ottawa is allocating $49 million over two years for the nation-wide program aimed at improving community infrastructure.

Photo Richard Mahoney

Area roads are popular with cyclists.

At a recent county council meeting, Champlain Township Mayor Gary Barton noted that the sum would not go far con- sidering the number of applicants. “Don’t waste too much time on this,” he advised public works director Marc Clermont who presented the proposal. “How much clout do we have feder- ally?” Clermont replied: “We have no choice but to apply when the money is avail- able.” If the work does get the go-ahead, there are several ways to spend the money. The trail corporation has sug- gested that funds be allocated to paving more sections of the 72-kilometre track. Some mayors, such as Robert Kirby, of East Hawkesbury, recommend emphasis be placed on widening roads by pav- ing shoulders. Public roads offer cyclists more interesting scenery than the trail. Hawkesbury Mayor René Berthiaume ad- vocates special attention being paid to connections between Prescott-Russell, Ottawa and Québec. The trail remains the spinal cord of the regional cyclist network, allowed eco- nomic development director Sylvain Charlebois. During the same meeting, council members discussed a suggestion by Clarence-Rockland Mayor Marcel Guibord that more riverfront cycling paths be de- veloped. Charlebois noted that riverside circuits are very popular. While Barton noted that funds for any type of work are scarce, Cl- ermont mentioned another potential ob- stacle. Whenever a new trail is suggested, the “Not In My Backyard” syndrome is bound to surface, he said. The counties recently received $52,000 from the Ontario Trillium Foundation to finance a plan to develop trails and pro- mote active transportation in the district. Efforts continue to forge new links with neighbouring jurisdictions. The counties have offered to cover two-thirds of the cost of a project, if it is approved by Ottawa.

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