The NSTS has formed a committee to advocate and plan for the creation of an inter-Community Active Transportation (i-CAT) link between the villages of Silverton and New Denver. This is an idea that has been germinating in the area for decades, whether out of a desire for a scenic walking route, or as a means to reduce car dependency.
New Denver and Silverton are two small villages a mere three-and-a-half kilometres apart, yet from an active transportation standpoint they are islands:
- Basic services and amenities are shared between New Denver and Silverton (social events, health care, community halls, post office, grocery store, hospitality services, retail outlets, etc.)
- Population in the region is concentrated in the two villages
- Current active transportation networks connect smaller hamlets to New Denver but not Silverton
- Despite a culture of active living, car dependency is a major feature of life in the two communities
- There is no viable public transportation strategy or taxi service
means having no reasonable choice but to use a motor vehicle, even when another method of transportation would be preferred. We need to reduce car dependency because it:
- Contributes to climate change
- Is a barrier to aging in place
- Is a barrier to people with disabilities
- Inhibits youth from healthy independence
- Is a major drain on personal finances
- Removes opportunities for building active living habits
- Has other negative externalities: accidents, injuries, the cost of providing copious parking space at every amenity, reduced health and fitness, noise, harm to wildlife, pollution etc.
A single link exists between New Denver and Silverton: a winding stretch of highway with an 80 km/h speed limit. The highway is narrow, being entirely without shoulders in many places. It has blind curves and steep drop-offs, and experiences a fair proportion of industrial traffic (eg. logging trucks) as well as RVs and travel trailers.
The i-CAT Dream
Our dream is to build a second link between the villages, one that is comfortable, safe and available for active users of all ages and abilities (AAA). The link would be multi-use, allowing all forms of active transportation (walking, bicycling, strollers, scooters, e-bikes, etc.), and inclusive of personal mobility devices like mobility scooters and motorized wheelchairs. It would be direct, low-barrier, and physically separated from motor vehicle traffic. It would also have the option of being maintained in the winter.
Having engaged the support of both village councils, we hope to apply for an active transportation planning grant within the next 1-2 years. Issues around the un-surveyed highway right-of-way and private land will need to be addressed, as will the geotechnical challenges of the terrain.
Nevertheless, the immediacy of climate change concerns makes it imperative that the i-CAT be built, as it will give residents and visitors a safe option for moving between the communities without using cars or trucks for every little errand.