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Valley Journal Advertiser - 2021-07-20

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Investments in Kentville active transportation routes announced by all levels of government

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KIRK STARRATT VALLEY JOURNAL-ADVERTISER kirk.starratt@saltwire.com

People in the Kentville area will soon have greater access to more active transportation options. All three levels of government have announced investments in a network of approximately 21 active transportation lanes, pathways and crossings. At the June 28 announcement, held at Eaves Hollow in Kentville next to the Harvest Moon Trail, Kings-Hants MP Kody Blois announced $1.4 million in federal funding on behalf of Infrastructure and Communities Minister Catherine McKenna. On behalf of Energy and Mines Minister Chuck Porter, Environment and Climate Change Minister and Kings South MLA Keith Irving announced $1.2 million in funding from the Government of Nova Scotia. Kentville Mayor Sandra Snow has announced that the town is investing more than $978,000. Snow said the “forwardlooking project” would benefit many people. Kentville shares the desire to advance climate change goals set out by both the provincial and federal governments. She said the June 28 announcement takes them another step closer to reaching those goals. The mayor thanked all the citizens who came out when the town held public consultation sessions regarding active transportation. “You told us what you wanted to see, you drew the pictures for us and we put it down on paper and we are committed to that plan,” Snow said. She said the town has made a multi-year funding commitment and promoting clean, active transportation and a healthier environment is the way of the future. Snow said the town’s active transportation plan is about more than completing the network and providing opportunities for the community to be connected via trails, sidewalks and bike lanes. It would also improve the community’s “overall ability to access a healthy lifestyle and create an accessible environment that is inclusive and welcoming to all.” She pointed out that the completion of the active transportation plan is included as a high priority item in the town’s accessibility action plan. NEW AND IMPROVED ROUTES The investment represents 5.3 kilomtres of regional active transportation route improvements; a downtown active transportation network (5.4 km), a north end active transportation network (5.5 km), a south end active transportation network (5.6 km), a central active transportation network (5.7 km) and a west end active transportation network (5.8 km). The new networks will connect with the town’s existing trails and active transportation infrastructure, completing Kentville’s minimum grid for cyclists and pedestrians in the downtown. It will also connect the town to the Nova Scotia Blue Route, facilitating access to local amenities and attractions. Kentville Accessibility Committee chairperson Laurel Taylor said the town’s active transportation plan overlaps with its new accessibility action plan in several ways. She said the investments would make it a lot easier for residents and visitors with strollers, walkers, wheelchairs or other mobility devices to make their way through the downtown and around their neighbourhoods. “This funding is supporting active transportation and accessibility in a big way,” Taylor said. SUPPORTING PHYSICAL, MENTAL HEALTH Blois said the pandemic has illustrated the importance of having public spaces where people are able to get outside, exercise, clear their heads and reduce stress. He said active transportation options will not only help residents stay fit but will also support efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Blois said the federal government has been putting a series of projects together across the country through the Invest in Canada Infrastructure Plan to support these efforts. “This doesn’t happen without the leadership of local governments,” Blois said. Blois acknowledged Town of Kentville Recreation Director Rachel Bedingfield for her work under the leadership of town council to provide inclusive recreation opportunities. The federal contribution will help support the town’s active transportation plan. He said that when he talks to leaders across Kings-Hants, there is a desire to create communities that are livable, walkable and where you can work, play and dine all in one. Blois said, “the Annapolis Valley has this in spades.” ‘AMBITIOUS’ ENVIRONMENTAL TARGET Irving said the Province of Nova Scotia has set the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 53 per cent by 2030. He said this is one of the most ambitious targets in the country. “Completing Kentville’s active transportation network will help the province achieve its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and make clean transportation options the easy and healthy choice for residents,” Irving said. He said Premier Iain Rankin has brought forth additional ambitions for the province to get off coal by 2030, 10 years earlier than the previous provincial goal. Irving said they can “see a path” toward having 80 per cent renewable electricity for Nova Scotia. Irving also pointed out that his dealings with his federal counterpart, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Jonathan Wilkinson, is “really putting a lot of accelerated action and money behind the issues of climate change.”

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