Phase one completed: Campbell River’s Master Transportation Plan

A great deal has transpired in the decade since the city of Campbell River adopted its current transportation plan. Last February, Transportation Specialist Melissa Heidema informed Cortes Currents that they were drawing up a new plan. Phase one is now complete. In today’s interview, Heidema and Long Range Planning and Sustainability Manager Jason Locke give us a peek into what they accomplished.  

All photos courtesy City of Campbell River

“It’s obviously an exciting time to be looking at transportation in Campbell River and planning ahead for the future for 25 years and of course there’s so much more of an emphasis on climate change and being better for the environment,” said Heidema.  

“We’re putting a lot more emphasis on how do we get people more people to walk, bike and bus. How do we build that safe and comfortable infrastructure to try to encourage that? Also recognizing that in Campbell River we still have a lot of people that either want to drive or need to drive. So how do we accommodate that as well?“

Locke added, “I think the primary goal for the review and update of the master transportation plan is to review, as residents, how do we move around the city, whether by walking, cycling, transit, or by vehicle? Making it safe and comfortable for people to move around the city. Continuing to address traffic flow, so we have efficient traffic flow and efficient movement of goods and services, but continuing to prioritize pedestrian movement and the safety of pedestrians.”

The city hired the WATT Consulting Group out of Victoria to do a study. Phase one consisted of reviewing existing conditions, and collecting data from the public. 404 people filled out a survey, which was both online and at a booth in Campbell River Farmers Market. Another 45 came through the Ideas Fair at Campbell River Community Centre  (July 6 – Aug 6).

Heidema pointed out that walking is better for the environment, healthier for individuals and doesn’t consume gas.

Survey respondents wrote that there aren’t enough sidewalks in their neighbourhoods. Existing sidewalks  aren’t well maintained and too many cars do not stop for pedestrians at designated crosswalks.  

Heidema translated this into an action point, “People want the city to build better sidewalks and maintain them better.”  

Residents at the Ideas Fair in the Campbell River Community Centre – Photo courtesy city of Campbell River
Comparison of Campbell River mode share vs neighbouring communities – courtesy Master Transportation Plan 2022
Campbell River residents made a number of comments about the city’s sidewalks and crosswalks – Photo courtesy City of Campbell River

She listed challenges to cyclists,“A lot of people trying to bike felt unsafe riding on our major streets, especially if there weren’t any bike lanes or dedicated cycling infrastructure for them.  We do have a lot of really good pathways and multi-use pathways in Campbell River, but we also admittedly have a lot of streets that don’t have that cycling infrastructure.” 

“When we design cycling infrastructure, we try to build things that are suitable for everyone: the very young, the very old. You think about families riding with little kids. You also think about people who are new to cycling and maybe aren’t as comfortable riding in traffic. We try to build that infrastructure that feels safe and comfortable for everyone,” she said. 

“A lot of people felt that they wanted more separation between cyclists and cars, especially if it was on a major street. And a lot of people felt that there were poor east — west connections to key destinations. Things that were commented on were lack of bicycle parking at facilities as well. The fix to that is just building better infrastructure for cyclists.” 

Locke admitted, “Right now,  transit is not really a viable option for commuting to go to work because it’s not as frequent as people necessarily need to have it.”

Heidema explained, “People felt that transit was too infrequent to be used reliably, and a lot of people just weren’t familiar with our transit system to be able to use it. Then there was also a lack of direct routes to get to usual destinations. Campbell River is very long and skinny. We’re very, long north south and very skinny east west. We do run a number of transit routes in our community. I feel that  they’re excellent, but there are certain pockets where we just don’t have  the density to run transit. Transit works really well if you’re on one of these major routes, but less well if you’re not on one of these major routes.  The plan will look at how can we better serve everyone in our community, and how do we do this as cost effectively as possible?”

Dedicated Bike Lane – Photo courtesy City of Campbell River
Road through a subdivision – Photo courtesy city of Campbell River
Peak hour pedestrian counts – courtesy Master Transportation Plan 2022

She proceeded to list the challenges reported by motorists, “Residents felt that some of the intersections were a little bit challenging to go through. Some residents felt that there was too much traffic congestion when they want to travel. Personally, I feel that driving in Campbell River is great. Mind you, I’m from a bigger city, so I have a very different perspective on it.”

Locke said, “One of the challenges, and this was identified in the news release, is safety.  That is why we’re trying to address how we move around the city, prioritizing pedestrian safety. We have separated bike lanes because we know if it’s a protected separating bike lane, people are more prone to use it because evidence has shown that  it’s safer.” 

“Another interesting challenge that was identified through the survey and community feedback was too much traffic congestion. There are ways to address that, you could carpool.  Eventually, as the city grows, our transit system will improve as well. That will also help reduce congestion.”   

He concluded, “I think continuing to grow inward as opposed to outward will also help reduce congest. The idea is living where we live, work and play in a compact complete neighborhood  as opposed to sprawl because obviously the more that we grow outward, the more cars and vehicles will have on the road.” 

The next step is for WATT Consulting to analyze what they saw, the data that was collected and develop the goals, strategies to achieve them and plans for the future. At some point in early 2023, the city will unveil these and seek further public input.

People who wish to view the documents associated with Campbell River’s  Master Transport Plan may do so at

Top photo credit: The Roundabout on the South Island Highway, Campbell River – courtesy City of Campbell River

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