The municipal councils of Airdrie and Rocky View County have approved funding for a feasibility study that will investigate the possibility of developing a bike path linking Airdrie and Calgary.
“I am looking forward to getting that information back,” Mayor Peter Brown said during a regular Airdrie City council meeting on Sept. 7. “This is very exciting. I say that from a regional perspective because I think it is going to build some bridges that need to be built. This is the beginning.”
The motion, put forward by Coun. Tina Petrow and unanimously approved by council, will contribute $13,333 toward the feasibility study. Funding will come from the City of Airdrie’s 2021 operating budget, contingent upon a shared funding agreement that also includes the City of Calgary and Rocky View County.
RVC council approved a similar motion at their Sept. 7 meeting, devoting $13,333 toward the feasibility study.
According to the agenda report, prior to both Rocky View County (RVC) and Airdrie agreeing to move forward with the study, there was a $40,000 funding shortfall, as the study carries a price tag of $70,000. Calgary, RVC, and Airdrie will all contribute $13,333 to make up for the remainder, while Trans Canada Trail will contribute the remaining $30,000.
Council’s decision comes after initial conversations were held in early 2020 about the possibility of a bike path linking the two cities. The discussion came through council due to correspondence from a Calgary photographer who occasionally commutes to Airdrie from Calgary on his bike for work.
Calgary-based photographer Matthew Hicks submitted a letter to council on March 26.
“I discovered that physically getting to Airdrie was very dangerous,” Hicks said, when reached after the meeting. “Since I first brought this to council, I was nearly hit by a dump truck.”
Hicks, who lives in the community of Ramsay, currently uses Calgary’s dedicated pathway system to travel to the northern edge of the city. He then traverses to 15 Street NE, which he takes to cross under Stoney Trail. From there, he continues through Balzac along Range Road 11, which eventually turns into 8 Street once he’s reached Airdrie city limits.
According to Hicks, plans to get an inter-municipal bike pathway built have been in talks for years, but he noticed there wasn’t any “real work” being done.
“I laid out how I think it should be and the safest way to do it,” he said. “Things started rolling from there.”
Hicks said the approval of funding for a feasibility study is a big step toward ultimately seeing the idea come to fruition.
“This means they are actually taking this seriously.” He said.
Moving forward, there are three proposed routes that officials will look at for the potential path. According to the council meeting agenda report, the first option would represent a “commuter route” on the west side of the Queen Elizabeth II highway.
“Commuter routes take the straightest, most direct route origin to destination, and provided a great deal of efficiency,” the report stated.
The second option includes 10 kilometres of trail alignment consisting of gravel, paved trails, and paved road rights of way.
Option three, meanwhile, would be a route that meanders alongside Nose Creek on the west side of the QEII. While suitable for commuters, the report notes this option is is longer in length and focuses on a better user experience for a broader range of mobility choices
Next steps include contracting a consultant to complete the study. According to the report, the estimated timeline for the study’s completion would be the second quarter of 2022.
“Administration and the consultant would return to council at that time to present study findings and provide recommendations,” the report stated.
Deputy Mayor Kelly Hegg said it would be great to see a path connect Airdrie “through and to other communities.”
“Hopefully we can go west and east sometime in the future and see where that takes us,” he said.