Ottawa budget 2015: Cycling funding pushed into “Strategic Initiatives” pot

This year, money for cycling infrastructure was not in the transportation budget, but has been pushed into a pot of money for “Strategic Initiatives” under the broad category of “neighbourhood road safety, including pedestrian and cycling mobility”.

This month’s Advocacy Working Group meeting fell just after Ottawa City Council passed the 2015 budget on March 11th.

The city will not be deciding on how to spend this pot until May or June 2015 when it determines the new Term of Council priorities, which also include funding for an array of other initiatives.

As noted on the City of Ottawa’s website, in the 2015 budget, new funds for cycling remain to be determined along with an array of other initiatives in the new term of council priorities: Term of Council Priorities.

This is disappointing given that last year’s budget and the city’s transportation master plan approved in 2013 had projected growth in spending on cycling infrastructure under the transportation budget. The change also removes cycling from an institutionalized position within the transportation budget to a position where its prioritization by Council remains to be debated, and where it is in competition with a number of unrelated initiatives for funding.

In the lead-up to deliberations on how to spend the 2015 Strategic Initiatives funds, CfSC will continue to remind Council of the goal of committing dollars on cycling proportional to the percentage of trips taken by bicycle in the city. Until then, it is not clear what new cycling projects, including proposed expansion of the city’s winter cycling network, will receive funding this year. CfSC will also be pushing for spending on cycling infrastructure to resume its place in the transportation budget in 2016.

During its March meeting, the AWG also discussed feedback on the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario’s (MTO) recommendations for the mid-town Queensway bridges rehabilitation project. The AWG will continue to monitor and provide feedback on cycling implications of this project.