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Didsbury's pedestrian plan outlines challenges, opportunities

Plan goes to committee for review, recommendations
A lack of pedestrian infrastructure like benches was noted as an issue in a new pedestrian connectivity master plan. Town of Didsbury photo

DIDSBURY - A draft of Didsbury's new pedestrian connectivity master plan (PCMP) – which provides a comprehensive outline of pedestrian infrastructure priorities, opportunities and challenges – has been made public and forwarded to a council committee for review.

The report was tabled during a recent council meeting, held in person and online.

The primary objective of the plan is to address the community’s connectivity, safety, and accessibility requirements, as well to evaluate the condition of existing infrastructure, council heard.

“The plan highlights the challenges with existing pedestrian infrastructure, opportunities for pedestrian infrastructure improvement, key engagement findings, and a series of recommendations including operating, policy, planning and capital improvements projects priorities by region,” chief administrative officer Ethan Gorner.

The plan has been in development for the past year with an engagement process involving input from residents and community stakeholders, he said.

According to the plan’s executive summary, primary research for the plan was completed through a survey, input workshops, digital interactive mapping tools, interviews, pop-up engagement station, and an in-person assessment of existing pedestrian infrastructure. 

Secondary research consisted of a review of key internal, regional, provincial and national documents and trends research.

Challenges identified through the research includes gaps in the current pedestrian network including pathways that terminate abruptly, barriers that block network connections, lack of pedestrian infrastructure and connection to some key destinations.

Other challenges include limited multi-use pathways including recreational loops and short linkages within neighbourhoods, a variety of conditions that limit universal accessibility, some infrastructure in poor condition including surface cracking, heaving, spalling, tree root lifting, and vegetation encroachment.

Opportunities identified include generous existing road right-of-ways provide opportunities to add pedestrian infrastructure, and that many destinations in Didsbury could be within walking or rolling distance if more pedestrian infrastructure were available.

The community engagement identified a desire for safety improvements such as lighting, additional crosswalks, signage and addressing snow/ice safety concerns, improved curb ramps in older streets, added sidewalks along some streets, more paved paths in Valarosa, and enhanced amenities such as seating, picnic tables and bike racks.

Numerous actions have been identified as top priorities of the plan, including the following, in a recommended order of priority:

• Develop a pedestrian infrastructure and maintenance policy and invest approximately $200,000 a year in lifecycle renewal to maintain pedestrian infrastructure and fix deficiencies.

• Update pathway and sidewalk standards to incorporate universal design best practices.

• Review the town’s snow clearing policy and update a snow clearing education campaign.

• Enhance the pedestrian network at the Memorial Complex and adjacent park area.

• Add signal flashers to the pedestrian crosswalk between 20th Avenue and 14th Street.

• Complete a fully linked corridor with asphalt multi-use pathways and pedestrian crossings between 15th Avenue and the rail corridor.

• Add a multi-use pathway along 15th Avenue and upgrade the pedestrian crossings at the 20th and 23rd Street intersections.

If approved by council, the plan will serve as a decision support tool to guide future capital renewal and maintenance prioritized for the pedestrian network, Gorner said.

“Having an approved plan is place will also improve the town’s eligibility for securing future capital funding through active transportation initiatives,” he said.

“The implementation of recommendations within the plan is expected to enhance the pedestrian experience in Didsbury, contributing to the overall quality of life for residents and visitors, and promoting active mobility and community well-being.”

Council carried a motion sending the plan to the committee of a whole for further review.

The complete plan is available for viewing on the town’s website

Dan Singleton

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