Council looks to stretch funding for more cycling and pedestrian projects
LONDON, ONT -- Some financial gymnastics could help London land even more money for senior governments for new bike lanes and sidewalks— but not every city councillor is convinced.
Based on a suggestion by councillor Steve Lehman, city hall will adjust its funding request for active transportation projects.
“We gain more active transportation, while at the same time being prudent with taxpayer money,” urged Lehman.
London qualifies for $5.5-million from the COVID Resilience Infrastructure Stream.
Rather than direct all of the funding towards a list of active transportation projects, Lehman suggested redirecting $2-million toward HVAC projects at a pair of community centres.
The HVAC projects are already included in the municipal budget, thereby freeing up $2-million in the budget.
That money can then be used to leverage additional senior government funding for bike lanes and sidewalks in the upcoming Public Transportation Stream (PTS).
“The net benefit of this transaction, instead of $5.5-million for active transportation, we’ll be getting $10-million, with no net increase to the taxpayer,” explains Lehman.
But several councillors opposed the move, because applications are not yet being accepted for the Public Transportation Stream.
“The intake for the PTS is in 2021, and a lot can change before then,” said councillor Elizabeth Peloza. “We know we need more infrastructure for active transportation now.”
City engineers developed a list of shovel-ready projects that would likely qualify for COVID-related funding, totalling 39 kilometres of cycling lanes and 12 kilometres of new sidewalks and park trails.
To qualify for funding, the projects must be completed by the end of 2021.