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Nelson council considers plans for Rosemont walking and biking changes

City plans to consult the public further in the next year
The City of Nelson is considering building a set of stairs like these between the west end of the Observatory Street overpass and Vancouver Street. Illustration: City of Nelson

The City of Nelson is planning to make it easier to walk or cycle between Rosemont and Uphill.

In an online survey using the ThoughtExchange process in the spring of this year, the city asked the public how pedestrian and bike access to and from Rosemont could be improved.

“The goal is to make walking and biking an easier choice, with intersection redesign, better access to Selkirk College, walking and cycling traffic improvements — a safe reliable connection to Rosemont,” said city planner Matt Kuziak at a Nov. 22 council meeting.

Kuziak said that the survey results and analysis by his department have led to a set of preliminary plans:

• Redesign the intersections at Hall Mines Road and Observatory Street, Vancouver Street and Observatory Street, and Silver King Road and West Richards Street, for improved visibility and to make the intersections equally convenient for cyclists, pedestrians and drivers.

• Build a covered stairway from Observatory Street up the steep path to Vancouver Street so pedestrians don’t have to walk around the Vancouver Street curve.

• Place a bi-directional bike lane on the north side of the Observatory Street overpass (over Highway 6) separated from traffic by flex-posts, with vehicle traffic reduced to one lane in each direction with right turn vehicle lanes in both directions, including a buffer for snow storage.

• Create a wide multi-use path on Vancouver Street.

The Hall Mines-Observatory intersection in the foreground, and the Anderson-Observatory intersection in the background, will both be upgraded as part of the city’s plan to improve walking and cycling between Rosemont and Uphill. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
The Hall Mines-Observatory intersection in the foreground, and the Anderson-Observatory intersection in the background, will both be upgraded as part of the city’s plan to improve walking and cycling between Rosemont and Uphill. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

All design changes will follow the accepted best practice known as All Ages and Abilities (AAA), he said, in which non-motorized transportation is designed for families with young children and for people with disabilities.

There will be further consultation with the public during the next year, Kuziak said, followed by more detailed design work, with construction to start in the spring of 2024.

He said the estimated cost of the project, not including the Rosemont stairs, is $1,368,986 including a 45 per cent contingency for unanticipated costs. Kuziak said he expects that federal infrastructure grants, some of which have already been applied for, will cover 60 per cent of the costs.

The covered stairs would bring the cost to $1.8 million, Kuziak said, adding that he anticipates much of this could be paid for by grants from senior governments.

Kuziak’s presentation to council, with conceptual drawings of the proposed changes, can be found at

A video of Kuziak’s presentation to council can be viewed at

Councillor Leslie Payne said the city should carefully consider the costs and benefits of building the covered stairs because walking around the Vancouver Street curve takes only four minutes, and because the stairs would not be a convenient route for residents in some areas of Rosemont.

Payne also said the bike lanes on the overpass should be separated by a hard barrier to comply with AAA standards, not just by posts or bollards as proposed.

Councillor Rik Logtenberg suggested this is an opportunity for a neighbourhood improvement committee to organize itself, to advise the city and to perhaps to apply for grants on its own. Kuziak said a good example of this is the West Kootenay Cycling Coalition and its successful application through the RDCK for a large grant to plan a bike route between Nelson and Castlegar.

Councillor Keith Page suggested the Rosemont plans should include tree planting for pedestrian shelter from winter winds and summer heat.

Nelson’s Official Community Plan includes a goal that half of trips in the entire city be non-motorized by 2040, and the Nelson Next climate action plan prioritizes a significant switch to active transportation. One of the aims of the provincial CleanBC program is to double the number of trips taken by active transportation (walking and biking) across the province by 2030.

High Street bike route monitored

Kuziak said the city did a number of two-day traffic counts in the summer on High Street since the cycle route was introduced in 2020 and found that:

• average pedestrian traffic has doubled since 2020 from 15 to 30 per hour

• average cyclist volume since 2020 has increased from 15 to 22 per hour

• vehicle trips decreased by about 50 per cent (120 per hour in 2020, 66 in 2022)

• Forty-three per cent of trips along the route were non-motorized in 2022, including pedestrian traffic, compared with 21 per cent in 2020.

Kuziak told the Nelson Star after the meeting that the city wants to see half of trips on that route, including by pedestrians, taken by walking or biking.

He said the trend seems to be in that direction on and will probably increase, indicating that the route is a success.

In a public survey in the spring of this year the city asked Nelson residents for their satisfaction with the High Street-Third Street bike route, which had been in place for more than a year.

Of 304 respondents, 46 per cent were satisfied or very satisfied, 25 per cent had no opinion, and 30 per cent were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied.


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Bill Metcalfe

About the Author: Bill Metcalfe

I have lived in Nelson since 1994 and worked as a reporter at the Nelson Star since 2015.
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