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Bike lanes remain in future plans for downtown Fergus

Motion to reconsider bike lanes on St. David Street North fails in narrow vote
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Keegan Kozolanka/GuelphToday file photo

FERGUS – Following a narrow vote, Centre Wellington council is sticking to its original plan to install separated bike lanes on St. David Street N. when the road is reconstructed in 2023. 

At Monday’s committee of the whole meeting, council discussed a motion to reconsider its previous unanimous decision in support of adding the cycling infrastructure. To proceed the motion needed support of five of the seven members of council (two thirds), but only four voted in favour of reconsideration.

Those in favour of reconsideration were: councillors Steven VanLeeuwen, Robert Foster, Kirk McElwain and Stephen Kitras. Those opposed were councillors Ian MacRae and Neil Dunsmore, along with Mayor Kelly Linton. 

Monday’s vote followed the presentation of a petition against the bike lanes at a council meeting last month. At that meeting, several councillors voiced support for taking a second look at the decision, given the public opposition, while others remained firmly behind their original choice as a way to encourage other modes of transportation in the downtown, particularly as Centre Wellington grows. 

The township plans to apply for provincial funding to cover the reconstruction of St. David Street North, including the addition of bike lanes. That work will be completed following the replacement of  pipes and underground infrastructure below the busy road.

On Monday, Kitras asked the public to write the provincial government ask them not to grant that funding, saying there were still unanswered questions about the project. 

"I'd like to encourage citizens that if this (reconsideration motion) is defeated, to petition the province with your proposals that we haven't had all the information and petition them not to give us money for this," he said. 

Meanwhile Coun. Ian MacRae said there was nothing in council's original decision that required reconsideration.

"At this point council needs to allow staff to do their job of developing a detailed design and associated costs for council review and approval and applying for provincial funding," he said. "We will have more opportunities to review, comment and possibly change the design at a later date."