By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
An extensive plan for the future of transportation in Oshawa has been approved by city council and will guide decision making around roads, budget allocations and active transportation for the next decade and beyond.
The Integrated Transportation Master Plan (ITMP) and its partner, the Active Transportation Master Plan (ATMP) were both given the rubber stamp of approval by city council at a special meeting on Sept. 15.
The duo of documents were slated for approval back in June, however on a motion from Councillor Nancy Diamond, the plans were tabled until after the summer recess to allow council to further review the lengthy plans set to guide Oshawa’s decision making until 2031.
Councillor John Aker voiced clear support for the plans that, he says, will help improve Oshawa’s image as a community.
“The image of Oshawa is changing, it’s improving and I think as an elected council we have to contribute to that changing image,” he said.
A main crux of the ITMP is reducing gridlock in the city, something that costs Oshawa millions of dollars a year.
Currently, 16 per cent of kilometres travelled on Oshawa roads take place in congested conditions. This frustrating, stop-and-go style of commuting costs the city $50 million a year due to commuter delay.
If nothing is done to address the problem, that cost could skyrocket to $245 million a year in 2031 with 38 per cent of kilometres travelled in congested conditions.
The ATMP looks to incorporate active modes of transportation into the city’s infrastructure, including the addition of bike lanes and the maintenance of city trails and walkways.
Included with the plans is a series of 75 recommendations with timelines for completion, varying from less than a year, to six or more.
Thirty-nine recommendations fall into the less-than-a-year category for “immediate” completion.
The majority of immediate recommendations involve incorporating the ITMP and ATMP into already existing plans, and to ensure any future developments include principles from the two plans into their designs.
Councillor Bob Chapman wanted to ensure that residents of Oshawa have a realistic idea for how the plans will roll out.
“I think we have to manage expectations of the residents of Oshawa,” he said.
The same was said by Councillor Nancy Diamond.
“We don’t want people to think these things can happen in a day and it’s just automatic,” she said.
Brett Spears from the MMM Group, a planning company which assisted the city in developing the ITMP and ATMP, ensured the plans are not set in stone.
“It’s not a blank cheque,” he said. “It’s a blueprint for the way forward to the year 2031.”
Chapman also wanted to ensure the city be wary of the maintenance costs associated with the additional infrastructure the two plans will create.
A full implementation of the ITMP would cost the city $90.48 million while the ATMP would run up a bill of $27 million.