News / Halifax

'Culture change:' Halifax council votes unanimously in favour of Integrated Mobility Plan

Councillors tacked amendments onto the plan that could mean a connected cycling network and bus lanes for Halifax two years earlier than planned.

A cyclist drives on a bike lane along Rainnie Drive last year. Cyclists in Halifax could have a complete network of lanes by 2020 after Tuesday's vote by council.

Jeff Harper / Metro Order this photo

A cyclist drives on a bike lane along Rainnie Drive last year. Cyclists in Halifax could have a complete network of lanes by 2020 after Tuesday's vote by council.

A “culture change” could be on the way for Halifax after a unanimous vote from regional council on Tuesday.

Council voted 16-0 to pass the long-awaited Integrated Mobility Plan, adding a number of amendments to speed up and track the progress.

The plan, which would cost $190 million to implement, is the result of months of work by Toronto contractor Rod McPhail and HRM staff.

The goal is to hit HRM’s 2031 target to have at least 30 per cent of trips made by walking, cycling or transit in the municipality, with no more than 70 per cent made by private vehicle.

Recently released census data show Halifax moving in the opposite direction, with more people driving, fewer taking the bus, and no growth in cycling.

“The Integrated Mobility Plan is all about a culture change,” McPhail told reporters on Tuesday.

That culture change means moving aware from catering to cars, and investing in transit and active transportation.

“Big cities, like Halifax wants to be, big cities in this country, they’re doing that now,” McPhail said.

“And that’s the important message, I think, for Halifax is, if they want to keep up with big cities, and they do, your council wants to, then they have to do things like put in active transportation. It’s really important, and I think they will.”

McPhail was happy to see unanimous support from council, and surprised by a rally in front of City Hall in favour of his report’s 137 recommended actions on Tuesday morning.

Council even voted to try to strengthen some of those recommendations.

After amendments from Deputy Mayor Waye Mason passed, staff will be looking at moving deadlines for a complete cycling network and bus lanes from 2022 back to 2020.

And Coun. Sam Austin got amendments passed to have staff bring annual progress updates to council, and to speed up changes to HRM’s street design rules.

McPhail thinks the cycling network timeline is “really tough,” but hopes it’s doable.

Mayor Mike Savage said the municipality will now work with the provincial and federal governments to try to secure funding for these projects, and get on the same page.

“We want to get people out of cars and onto buses, and onto bikes, and active transportation and ferries and all those things which are more conducive for good health, good environment and a good economy,” Savage said.

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