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County Council hears CWATS update


by Sylene Argent

At the County Council meeting held last Wednesday evening, Katherine Wilson, Active Transportation Coordinator, presented the County Wide Active Transportation System (CWATS) Annual Report to County Council.

  Wilson explained Essex County, and the seven area local municipalities, adopted the CWATS plan in 2012 to a build high quality network of active transportation routes, in addition to creating and defining tasks and responsibilities.

  CWATS, she said, promotes connected communities healthy and active living, and economic development and tourism opportunities.

  Wilson noted that since its adoption eight-years ago, there have been many updates to the CWATS program, including to planning and designing guidelines and standards related to active transportation facilities. The 2020 update is an in-depth overview of the CWATS program.

  In 2016, data showed that three percent of commuters indicated active transportation as their main mode of commuting, which is similar to other municipalities of comparable size and population, she explained.

  Through a poll the County conducted last year, Wilson noted that 91% of respondents agreed that the County and its local municipalities should continue to invest in active transportation

improvements.

  Through that poll, Wilson shared that walking and cycling frequency has increased since 2013.

In 2019, for instance, cycling increased to 31 percent from three percent in 2013.

  Wilson explained that in updating the CWATS Master Plan, there will be a study that will consist of six phases, which will be completed over a two-year timeline. The six phases include a policy review, a program update, network updates, maintenance and operations, and monitoring and evaluation.

  Since 2012, CWATS has implemented around 415 kilometres of on and off-road routes, which means the County has constructed 52 percent of the originally proposed CWATS network. The Municipal Partnership Program has also been implemented for partnership funding for active transportation supportive amenities.

  Through the Municipal Partnership Program, a pilot program will be implemented, which will add bike lockers at a variety of location across the County, including at the Essex Recreation Complex.

  The report to County Council noted bike lockers are more appropriate for long-term use. The bike lockers, Wilson said, will be delivered and installed this spring.

  Coming up, planned infrastructure will continue on the network, and the 2020 CWATS outreach program strategy will be developed.

© 2020 The Essex Free Press ltd.

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