We have a new Council! And they’ve now officially started their term. The list of our new Council members is up on the City’s website, along with their contact info: http://www.greatersudbury.ca/inside-city-hall/city-council/
So now what? Many candidates have expressed support for safe cycling in Greater Sudbury. Will they follow through on this with actual strategies, action plans, and budget?
Our Top Priorities
The SCU sent all municipal candidates a top priorities document in October. These priorities have also been reflected in a document sent yesterday to our new Council by the Coalition for Liveable Sudbury: CLS top priorities document.
Here’s a recap of our top priorities:
1. Complete Streets: we are asking for a Complete Streets policy that is entrenched in our Official Plan and that will guide the implementation of strategies and goals to build a grid of safe cycling infrastructure in Greater Sudbury.
2. Annual budget for cycling infrastructure: we are asking for yearly dollars that will go towards building a grid of safe cycling infrastructure as recommended in the Sustainable Mobility Plan of 2010. This includes dollars for new cycling projects that would implement new cycling routes along existing streets and roads, and the inclusion of appropriate cycling infrastructure within existing planned roads projects.
3. Transportation Demand Management: we are asking for the implementation of this strategy which will help to plan and implement priorities, goals, and budgets that will help alleviate congestion, decrease the need to widen and build roads, alleviate parking requirements, and bring other benefits to our residents including less air pollution and healthier lifestyles for our citizens.
Recap of SCU Municipal Candidates Survey
We issued a cycling survey to all municipal candidates, via email to those who had an email address posted on the City of Greater Sudbury’s election website, and in person to the 2 candidates who did not have published emails.
35 candidates answered our survey, which is a return rate of 50%. To see the results, go to our election page on our website.
So how does our new Council measure up?
Brian Bigger did not answer our survey, but Brian is a cyclist and a former member of the Sudbury Cyclists Club. We’ve had some positive conversations with him about the need to expand our cycling infrastructure and hope to see support from him for our 2015 priorities. He has expressed some support for cycling infrastructure (see a recent article in the Sudbury Star: Bigger Gets Ready to Lead Sudbury), but admits that he’s not thoroughly explored the issue. We’ll need to talk to Brian in more depth about our priorities, in particular to address the needs of our commuter cyclists.
3 other new councillors also did not answer our survey: Mark Signoretti, Michael Vagnini and Gerry Germain Montpellier. We’ve had conversations with Mark, who has expressed support for sustainable transportation, but have not had the opportunity to follow up with the other 2 new councillors.
Evelyn Dutrisac is one of 2 returning councillors and while she did not answer our survey, she has been very supportive of implementing additional cycling infrastructure in the past.
The other 8 councillors answered our survey, with everyone stating they “agree” with the statements that they support projects that promote healthy active living in our community, that cycling is an increasingly important mode of transportation, that investing in a bike-friendly community benefits everyone, that alternative modes of transportation are going to be more necessary in the future, and that our community’s cycling infrastructure needs to be improved.
These 8 councillors also supported our top priorities with a few caveats. Candidates who answered “don’t know” expanded that they would need more information on the priority or its cost. The one “no” (re Transportation Demand Management) was actually a partial yes, because the councillor explained that he supports the strategy but without the need for a senior manager at the City.
We want to meet with the new members of Council in coordination with the Coalition for a Liveable Sudbury to talk one on one to see where they stand with our top 3 priorities.
The Transportation Study and Official Plan reviews will be released soon, we think sometime in January, and we’ll see what is stated in these documents – we’ll no doubt need to provide a comprehensive response to these documents.
In 2015, Brian Bigger wants to implement community consultation through his Vision 2025 project, and we’ll want to be engaged there.
Last year, as a result of the Second Avenue reconstruction issues, Tony Cecutti, General Manager of Infrastructure, indicated he wanted to do better community consultation earlier in the planning process of roads projects; to date, there have been no opportunities to do this.
The Sustainable Mobility Advisory Panel is now done with their mandate. Whether this panel gets renewed with the new term has not yet been determined. The SCU has some good linkages with the former members of the panel, and we are sure that we’ll be able to do the same with whatever is established to replace it.
Brian Bigger and the rest of Council have many challenges in the coming months to gain back the trust of residents. Cyclists are frustrated and angered by how staff and Council have ignored the Sustainable Mobility Plan and how they’ve refused to make our roads safer for cyclists.
We hope to see some inroads this year with the 2015 budget.