Hamilton City Council votes to accelerate cycling plan

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The accelerated timeline, however, will cost taxpayers an additional $616,000. Photo credit: Tourism Hamilton


At a January 20, 2023 budget committee meeting, Hamilton’s City Council voted unanimously to have staff look into and report on the costs of accelerating the city’s cycling master plan. 

The 14-0 vote saw Councillors direct City of Hamilton Director of Transportation Planning Brian Hollingworth to report back on the financial impacts of accelerating Hamilton’s 20-year cycling master plan. 

The plan, created in 2009, is intended to guide the development and operation of cycling infrastructure until 2029.

Newly elected Councillor Tammy Hwang, who formerly worked for the City of Hamilton, introduced the motion to accelerate the schedule. 

She says that building bike lanes and paths at a faster rate will help address climate change and increase transportation options for locals.

The 2009 document identifies multiple projects, at a cost of over $380 million. Many identified projects have already been completed, but Councillors want to speed up the remaining timeline of the plan by three years with completion aimed for 2026.

Hollingworth reported back to Council at a February 7 budget meeting, where Councillors heard that accelerating the cycling master plan would cost an extra $616,000 a year to pay five new staff. 

Those costs include the hiring of two new managers, a design technologist, a construction project coordinator, and a landscape architect. 

The city is planning on hiring the new staff by June, meaning that there is a $308,000 impact on the 2023 budget.

In a final vote on the matter, Council voted 11-1 to ultimately accelerate the city’s bike lane and path project timeline. Councillors voted to refer to the budget’s $2.4 million cycling plan budget to hire the five staff. 

The remaining $2.1 million will be allocated to “shovel-ready” projects. The city also hopes that the money will be matched by the federal government, although there is no guarantee.

Councillor Tom Jackson was the lone vote against the proposal, saying that he supports bike lanes, but is unsure about the extra costs of an accelerated timeline.

In 2022, the city completed 14 cycling projects and upgraded other infrastructure.

Over the past three years, between 2019 and 2022, 20 kilometres of projects were built.

The city hopes to build 65 kilometres of standalone projects and 100 kilometres of integrated projects over the next three years thanks to the accelerated timeline. That would see the projects completed by 2026.


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