Abbotsford council hopes the city’s plan to create a rapid transit corridor linking UFV, the historic downtown and HighStreet is innovative enough to win a $10 million prize from the federal government.
Council gave the go-ahead Monday for the city to apply to the new “Smart Cities Challenge” that will hand out up to $75 million to four Canadian cities with ideas to improve the lives of residents.
The city will try to land one of two grants for up to $10 million available to communities with less than 500,000 people by pitching its plan to run buses every 15 to 30 minutes along South Fraser Way and McCallum and Maclure roads. Those higher frequency routes are envisioned in the draft of the city’s new transportation master plan with a target date of between 2021 and 2024. The $10 million cash infusion would speed up those timelines.
As part of the application, the city says it will aim to improve commuters use of sustainable transportation – which includes transit, carpooling, walking and biking – by 50 per cent.
That would require boosting the use of such alternate options from 22 per cent to one-third of all commuters, a shift that would take more than 5,000 cars off the road.
Finalists for the large prizes will be announced this summer, with winners announced next spring following a second proposal process.
The program says it will promote a “smart cities approach” by integrating “the fundamental benefits that data and connected technology have to offer” by “increasing openness,” “integration,” “transferability” and “collaboration.”
Examples given by the government range from efforts to reduce homelessness, to decreasing the flood damage risk.
“I think we should come out of this winners in spring of 2019,” Mayor Henry Braun said, after Couns. Sandy Blue and Ross Siemens suggested Abbotsford’s planning process and demographics could give it a boost in the application process.