This is the question that was asked of the candidates in Courtenay by the Coalition

"Each year the Comox Valley is experiencing heavier traffic volumes, especially on the main arterial roads. What are your views on how to deal with this problem? "

These are the responses.


Bill Bate

Thanks for your patience in getting a reply.
In answer to your question, I believe we have to do a better job of densifying our downtown while enhancing non-vehicular means of transportation (bike lanes, dedicated crossings, etc) and ongoing transit reviews to ensure we are getting maximum value; additionally, a greater commitment must be made to the goal of being a model walk/cycle friendly community.
Bill Bate  




Mark Middleton



I was directed to this question by one of the other candidates as it wasn't e-mailed to me. I hope my answer makes it to you and gets included with the others. 


Mark Middleton

"Each year the Comox Valley is experiencing heavier traffic volumes, especially on the main arterial roads. What are your views on how to deal with this problem? " 

A 3rd crossing is required.............from Simms Park to lower 6th street. In all honesty a pedestrian/cycling bridge is just one piece of the puzzle. Reducing traffic volume requires getting a large number of people out of their vehicles and into public transit or onto their bikes. Many people feel unsafe cycling across or through major arteries in the valley. My family is included in that group. A better series of trails, paths and bicycle lanes connecting Comox, East and West Courtenay will allow those who chose to, the opportunity to leave their cars at home and cycle. Once the infrastructure is set up, educating the public on the health and environmental benefits will be key. As a city, we can (and should) continue to partner with service groups such as Rotary and be receptive to initiatives that encourage us to leave our cars at home for those short trips into town.




Doug Hillian

My vision is a community where we focus on moving people rather than vehicles; where new and existing development is pedestrian and cyclist friendly; where transit is effective and well-used; and where we find ways to decrease our dependence on fossil fuels to promote individual health and combat climate change. The City is already making progress and, with public engagement, can continue initiatives such as:

  • encourage infilling and increased density close to shopping hubs to enable walking and reduce commutes.
  • improve our transit system while encouraging ridership, with workplace incentives to take transit and carpool.

  • promote traffic calming in neighbourhoods and insist that new development is pedestrian/cycling friendly.

  • push senior governments to direct infrastructure spending into sustainable transportation initiatives.

  • recognize cycling as a key element in managing traffic flow and promote cycling infrastructure through continued development of a network of routes, including the proposed pedestrian bridge if economically feasible.

  • look to other communities such as Portland, and work towards making the Comox Valley a leader in alternative transportation.

  • bring our best engineering minds together with other citizens in a transportation task force to look at creative initiatives to address ever-increasing traffic volumes.

Ronna-Rae Leonard


Hello to all of you at the Comox Valley Cycling Coalition,

For some reason, your question to candidates did not get sent to me.  I learned of your request from a supporter and Coalition member.  I had another candidate forward your question and email address, so that I could respond.

Below is my contribution to your process to inform voters.


Ronna-Rae Leonard

As your Courtenay Councillor, I support a well-planned city that provides safe, efficient and affordable alternative ways of moving about, so people will leave their cars at home.  Within our growing community, I support transit-oriented development, along with strong walking and cycling infrastructure.  I have long advocated for the use of Gas Tax Transfer funds to support a better cycling infrastructure.  I recognize it as a mode of transportation that means healthier citizens, reduced infrastructure costs to local government, reduced greenhouse gases, as well as cleaner air and water.  I believe that our transportation planning should prioritize pedestrians first, followed by cyclists, public transit, cargo transit, and lastly, cars.  Other cities have done it and I will continue to work on that vision to make Courtenay safe, affordable, and a place we are all proud to call home.

Shortly after I was elected in the fall of 2005, I recognized the need to raise the profile of cycling.  I committed to working out the logistics of collaborating with the other jurisdictions in the Comox Valley.  All jurisdictions  agreed to participate in the "outside the box" solution of the Comox Valley Cycling Task Force.  I see the value in collaborations at all levels, and spearheaded the development of the Cycling Public Advisory Committee, to ensure early public participation in all planning and transportation infrastructure development, and to insert cycling interests into the budget cycle.  We are going down a new path and there are fits and starts, but we are assured that cycling needs will be on the transportation agenda.

People will only choose cycling if they think it will be a safe way to get around.  The best way for new cyclists to gain skills and confidence is by off-road experiences.  They will certainly have a safe experience on a separate bridge and a network of paths.   The idea of a cycling/pedestrian bridge is articulated in the Official Community Plan.  It's been there for years, sitting dormant, despite interest and regional support via the Cycling Task Force.  Recently, Ed Schum brought forward a vision of a wood bridge built with a great collaboration with the Timber Framers Guild, and this has ignited the imagination of people.  We need to take a "can do" attitude and follow the vision.  Such a bridge would also  strengthen the connection to the growing network of ped/cycling paths in East Courtenay, the Riverway, and in West Courtenay.

Commuter cyclists need more than off-road experiences.  They need a safe and efficient system.  The CV Cycling Plan, which was commissioned in the early days of the Cycling Task Force, suggests that we need to focus on achieving bikeway interconnections, as well as developing consistency and standardization of the routes throughout the Comox Valley, improving identified existing routes, and seizing regional opportunities.  Hundreds of cyclists contributed to the identification and development of the Plan.  We have the benefit of many experienced cyclists who are contributing to prioritizing the works that need to be accomplished, starting with improving the major arterial routes. There have been some wrong turns along the way, including recent developments which have not served commuting cyclists well.  I will continue to advocate for better infrastructure for cyclists.

Change happens when people come to appreciate something new.  Support is also built with education and engagement.  That means fun events like Car-free Sunday and Bike to Work Week.  As more people cycle and walk, the more support there will be to make cycling and walking safer, efficient, and enjoyable.  I support a vision of a transportation system that makes room for everyone!

Please visit 




Erik Eriksson

I am a proponent of working toward the formation of a single government for the Comox Valley.  Only when we have a single jurisdiction can we realistically hope to come up with a plan to deal with future traffic.  Who is in charge of looking at what kind of infrastructure will be required to deal with the impact of the two massive developments south of Courtenay.  How are the residents there expected to get through Royston, into town and then over to Costco.  Perhaps future planning would call for commercial development at Union Bay.
elect Erik Nov. 19




Starr Winchester

The increased volumes of traffic in the Comox Valley is a real concern to me.  I must confess, I am not an avid cyclist, but have the greatest amount of respect for all cyclists.  We visited our daughter in Amsterdam and were amazed at the use of bicycles in that Country.  Our daughter rides 8 km each way to work every day, it’s just a way of life for her and all her colleagues and friends.  She also feels very safe cycling everywhere she goes.
Although the City has made progress in the past 10 years with cycling infrastructure, unfortunately I think we were about 20 years too late.  It’s difficult to “un-do” what was done in the past, but we can make progress moving forward.  We must ensure that EVERY new development in Courtenay/Comox Valley has the infrastructure  to accommodate cycling and walking paths.  We should be proceeding with bicycle lanes on Fitzgerald Avenue.  I watched on TV the interesting proposal for a pedestrian bridge, and I would be in favour of exploring all options to make this a reality.  I read with interest the comments regarding Car Free Sunday.  In my opinion, we need to engage our community more with initiatives such as this.
I am very much aware that cycling and walking truly increase the quality of life for all communities.  As I previously stated, I am not an expert in the field of cycling, but I have much respect for the members of the Comox Valley Cycling Coalition, and would be willing to work with you, if elected, to improve our cycling and walking infrastructure in Courtenay and the Comox Valley.
Thank you for all the hard work you do to make our Community a healthier and safer place to live.
Starr Winchester
Candidate for Courtenay Council




Norm Reynolds


Greetings and thank you for your interest in more effective, economical, healthy and environmentally friendly transportation. My  response to your question on dealing with traffic volumes: 

We have many good reasons to recentre our transportation away from Car-centred.  Other communities have calculated the cost of roads  and parking (including the loss of prime real estate, the cost of accidents –dollars and suffering—the cost of policing, the infrastructure costs and—not least—the loss to our children and grandchildren if we do not bring global warming under control.

Smart communities are reallocating funds to healthier forms of transportation based on the cost benefits. We can do an immense amount to improve transit ridership(1 bus full=40 less cars on the road. Counting the cost savings of transit we should have free or very low cost monthly passes for Courtenay employers to issue to all their employees. Our City employees should automatically travel free on transit and be recognized for their citizenship in doing so. Ecopasses for day ridership should be very cheap. We should work with business to offer shopping discounts with the presentation of a bus pass.

As Boulder Colorado does we should employ the power of internet technology to allow pin point scheduling and booking of bike rack rides so that a cyclist could count on using a bike rack on the bus.

I believe that we could design a 15 minute interval NIC-Courtenay-Comox bus loop that didn’t come across the bridge but stopped at a bus centre where “yellow”—free—bicycles are available to pedal across a bike overpass to Courtenay.   We could include scooters for the mobility challenged. 

We need to rethink where we build so that our housing is clustered for easy access to bus and to established centres. The old Courtenay elementary would have been great for this—imagine 4 stories of residences would have not only saved vehicle usage costs, it would have secured downtown Courtenay as a walking centred vital commercial centre of the valley. WE need to look for other opportunities like that.    

Live/ work development would also reduce vehicle use especially if the development has limited parking so residents are encouraged to find alternatives to cars. Developers can be encouraged by incentives to include car share vehicles and parking spaces in new development.  WE need to begin a smart car program so that those who only need a car occasionally can rely on a vehicle for those times and rely on transit or cycling for the vast majority of their local trips.

I would want us to look at Boulder’s dial a ride that picks up people who are too far from a bus stop to walk and delivers them to a high volume transit route AND is there to pick them up when they return. There should be many more bike routes and bike racks. Employers should have incentives to have change rooms for bicycle commuters—could be a tax incentive. 

Happy Trails!



Dave Smith

Build a new bridge which has been discussed for some 30 years. Or build the bike/walking bridge, with ambulance and fire truck crossing capabilities.



Douglas Kerr

As I have stated in my election platform information I want to get away from so much blacktop and car required development. I prefer to see smaller urban spaces accessed by bike and walking. There is no point in going for more sprawl, we should be increasing density and building up not out. I am totally in support of  defined bike lanes.

Doug Kerr


Jon Ambler

Thank you for the opportunity to respond to the question : "Each year the Comox Valley is experiencing heavier traffic volumes, especially on the main arterial roads. What are your views on how to deal with this problem? "

Bicycles and vehicles and pedestrians all need access to a functional, affordable and effective road system. Each segment has needs that must be met where possible, but without impacting the needs of the other two user groups.

For this reason at Council we listen to the Cycling Task Force and other groups as they try to make progress in enahncing cycling safety, because I know full well that one bike on the road equals one less car! This speaks directly to the question above.You can check my voting record: I have been in favour of spending money on cycling infrastructure when it was recommended by the Task Force.

As the cars fill the roads the bikes are squeezed, so an approach that has potential is to have designated cycling paths, away from vehicles. When Ed Schum came to Council with the idea of a bridge to get pedestrians and cyclists off the 5 and 17 Street bridges I voted in favour of a serious look at the idea.  I do not know if it will work, but it is certainly worth looking at. One Councillor didn't even want to consider the idea! I also endorse the idea of a multi-user group examining where designated bike paths can go on roads. Local neighbours, cyclists and drivers must all get the chance to come up with the solution that best meets everyone's needs.

Thank you

Jon Ambler


Greg Phelps

As a cyclist I have a conflict of interest?  Just kidding!

If you have been following the news lately you should have seen the story regarding council's support for the proposed pedestrian bridge near the 5th street bridge.  And will not cost 4 to 5 million dollars as some have suggested.  In fact if we follow the model laid out by Ed Schum and the Timber Framers Guild, the costs could actually be quite minimal - especially when you compare it to infrastructure for vehicular traffic.  That added benefit, as Golden BC found out, was that it turned into a community building exercise as much as a bridge.  I have been urging people to visit their website and find out for themselves.

The city has been making progress in some areas and not so much in others.  We have partnered with others to bring in some excellent  speakers on cycling and cycling infrastructure.  We have also quietly been working away at a trail system all through the Marsden area (as new subdivisions open up) that will allow pedestrians and cyclists to make their toward the downtown area without the usual conflict with traffic.  Where the real difficulty occurs in in older subdivisions where this is not much room for bikeways.  Council has also been supportive, as has Courtenay Rotary, of the new Rail Trail, which when complete will go from 5th street down to 29th - and beyond.  Rotary has already committed to working with the city to build the next section.  The eventual plan would see a Rail Trail all the way from Courtenay to Victoria.  Can you imagine what a boom that would be for our tourist industry?  Council (the majority) also supported car free Sunday.  Yes, there was some push back - and yes, we have learned things to do slightly differently if we do it again next year.  And we have initiated discussion with Ducks Unlimited to try and obtain access for a pathway from east Courtenay. 

There have been some shortcomings:  Some projects managed to work their way through the system without consultation with the cycling community.  These are not big ticket items, and if caught early on, can be done quite easily such as bike lines through intersections.  As well...we seem to be studying Fitzgerald Avenue to death.  I would like to see some progress on this in the new year. 

The population of the city has been growing at 3% per year....however traffic has been growing at 9% per year.  This is unsustainable!  We can't just keep building more roads.  Some areas, like downtown Courtenay, would be destroyed if we tried to accommodate much more traffic.  A new bridge has been estimated at around 30 million dollars.  While it would be used by all the drivers in the Valley, it would be the city who would be on the hook for the costs. 

Am I going to go shopping at Costco on my bike in a howling southeaster - probably not!  But by making cycling and walking safer, we can move people out of their cars.

Thank you for the opportunity. 

Greg Phelps


Marcus Felgenhauer

As an avid mountain biker and fledgling roadie, cycling is near and dear to my heart. Being (hopefully) new on council there will much I need to learn regarding what we can and cannot do at a municipal level but hear are my thoughts.  As a City we should certainly look to include bike friendly upgrades when we are doing already required infrastructure upgrades, this seems both logical and cost effective. The city can and should partner with other levels of government and organisations such as CVCC  to plan well ahead to include and fund alternative transportation, bikes and pedestrians.  Education is also critical, the more people on bikes the better the reasoning for infrastructure upgrades. Finally increasing the density of the city itself so people live closer to work will count down on traffic increases and slow down urban sprawl. I don't have any where near all the answers but I look forward to working with you to make Courtenay better.