Bike path delayed to check environmental impact of culvert

Thunder Bay cyclists face a new delay in the construction of a bike path that would connect the north and south sides of the city, as it may cross a protected stream.

Lakehead Region Conservation Authority, Ministry of Natural Resources to assess site

Thunder Bay is developing a trail that will help people get safely across town, and avoid traffic on Memorial Avenue, according to the city's active transportation co-ordinator. (Supplied)

Thunder Bay cyclists face a new delay in the construction of a bike path that would connect the north and south sides of the city, after concerns a culvert may cross an environmentally-protected stream.

Workers were supposed to install the culvert at the foot of Winnipeg Avenue earlier this week, as a way for cyclists to cross a ditch along the proposed path. But the city said the Lakehead Region Conservation Authority [LRCA] wants to make sure there won't be an impact on a stream that runs through the area. 

“This is a little bit of a surprise,” said Adam Krupper, Thunder Bay's active transportation coordinator.  

He said the city has maps showing where protected streams are located and this one didn't appear. 

“Every time work is done near a stream the city reviews those maps and makes sure it's okay,” Krupper said. “It just looks like there was a small discrepancy between the city's maps and the LRCA maps.”

The LRCA and the Ministry of Natural Resources have to assess the site to determine whether or not a culvert would pose any environmental risk before the work can be done.

Krupper said if construction of the culvert is denied, there are a couple of other options the city could look at to create the bike path in the same area — but hopes the current plan will be approved. 

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"This particular culvert is the most convenient for people. It's the most visible. It's the most easily accessed. And it's the one that connects most seamlessly into the network,” he said. “So this is definitely the preferred option.”

The planned bike path would stretch between Winnipeg Avenue and Carrick Street, allowing cyclists to stay off a busy section of Memorial Avenue. 

Cyclist Ken Shields, who has been lobbying for the new bike trail, said the city has been saying for three years that it will install the culvert, and he is frustrated that there's another delay.

But Shields also said he felt reassured after speaking to an LRCA staff member who told him the assessment should happen quickly.

CBC News contacted the LRCA for comment on Wednesday, but had not received a response by the end of the day.  

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