February 28th, 2024

City Notebook: A break from chais to talk about cycling

By COLLIN GALLANT on February 19, 2022.

cgallant@medicinehatnews.com@CollinGallant

A break from the maddening headlines… Medicine Hat will give new consideration to a dedicated cycling master-plan in the year ahead.

Members of the Group “Bike Medicine Hat” made an in-depth presentation to a city committee earlier this month, and a condensed version will be provided to all of council at their Tuesday night meeting.

Now, hold your horses, car-supporters, the gist is to provide more prominence and updates to a 12-year-old cycling master-plan they say fell by the wayside in budgets and project planning since 2010.

They want a renewed effort, dedicated annual funding for transportation upgrades, more priority on the work, intersection improvements and a conversation about a blanket 40 km/h speed limit in residential areas.

“We know that we’re not going to put a bike lane on every street in Medicine Hat, but we hope to reduce the speed throughout in residential communities,” said Carter Gramlich, head of the group, who said a new 40 km/h limit downtown isn’t controversial, and could eventually be extended elsewhere where appropriate.

Another main goal is to better link existing bike lanes and trails to each other. As it is now, they argue, the system doesn’t properly links up with where cyclists want or need to go.

As for the money to pay for it, the city has already made an application for a share of a $400-million federal fund dedicated to reviewing traffic safety, said operations chief Pat Bohan.

For the record, Calgary and Edmonton have already reduced blanket speed limits in residential roads (those without a centre-line) from the standard 50 kilometres per hour to 40.

Utility relief

Tuesday’s council meeting will layout options for a utility relief package promised to councillors two weeks ago.

A new page on the city’s website also seeks to answer common questions about bills.

Last summer, councillors approved an addition $4.5 million “COVID relief” package that put a $136 credit on every utility bill in the city.

Of note, no lack of telegraphs from the provincial government point to some cash back set-up for those burdened by high bills as the legislature resumes this week.

We’re guessing Wednesday following the Speech from the Throne the previous day.

One quick one

It’s interesting to hear the comparison of farmers being locked up in opposition to the Canada Wheat Board during the 1980s and this week’s (this month’s?) protests in Ottawa getting broken up by police.

The grain farmers were eventually extended pardons by Prime Stephen Harper when the “Freedom in Grain Marketing” Act passed, including one to former Alberta MLA Rick Strankman.

But let’s consider the actual facts of the matter. Strankman and others chose jail time (four days in his case) as a public protest over paying fines issued for hauling their harvest across the border to private buyers.

Isn’t that a lot more effective of a protest,, then to sit indefinitely in a hot tub on the lawn of Parliament Hill?

A look ahead

City council will meet Tuesday night (owing to the long weekend), and next week will feature city council committee meetings most days thanks to the calendar. Meetings are typically scheduled on the first and third thisday or second and forth thatday of the month.

February has created a jumble when it began on a Tuesday this year and ended on a Monday.

It’s a free-fishing weekend in Alberta (meaning you don’t need your new licence) in honour of the Family Day holiday, if you’re so inclined.

The Alberta budget is scheduled to be announced Thursday.

100 years ago

Alas, the present took up too much time for an examination of the past to warrant space this week.

Here’s a meditation until 1922 headlines return next week:

Only a minuscule portion of time is in fact “the present.” All the time that’s ever been is the past, and “the future” never truly arrives, instead it is redefined as it travels quickly backwards past us.

Collin Gallant covers city politics and a variety of topics for the News. Reach him at 403-528-5664 or via email at cgallant@medicinehatnews.com

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