District and businesses in perfect tandem on bikes

The free bike program run by the Regional District was a success in its first year.

PORT McNEILL—The free bike program run by the Regional District in partnership with businesses in Sointula and Port McNeill was a success in its first, limited run this summer, and changes next year could enhance the service, manager of operations Patrick Donaghy told the board of directors at their regular monthly meeting Oct. 16.

The program purchased bicycles refurbished by The Shed outdoor store in Port McNeill and signed an agreement for servicing by the bikes for 2012. The cycles were place on Malcolm Island, near the BC Ferries dock in Sointula, for free use by travellers. Deb’s Deli in Sointula earned a monthly stipend for checking the cycles in and out Monday through Saturday between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

The free-use bike program was paid for through gas-tax funds. It ran from July 30 through Sept. 30, with the heaviest use in August, and with Saturdays identified as twice as busy as weekdays.

Donaghy recommended the program be renewed in 2013 and run from May 1 through Sept. 30. He also recommended the RD invite proposals for a host that could provide Sunday sign-out of the bikes, and provide information on the program to North Island tourism centres and organizations.

Donaghy’s report also cited ridership by area, which indicated only three per cent of riders came from within the regional district while 42 per cent came from other parts of Vancouver Island. Ten per cent of riders were international with another eight per cent from the U.S.

“We were very, very pleased with the results,” said Donaghy. “I’d like to thank Liette (Patterson) for taking the paper and brining it together so I could make sense of it.”

The program was started as a green tourism initiative, designed to allow visitors to travel Malcolm Island without bringing their automobiles. Donaghy said it also served to limit the solid-waste stream at Seven Mile Landfill.

“We see it as a win-win,” he said. “Many of these bikes that were refurbished would otherwise have ended up in the landfill.

Alert Bay Mayor Michael Berry, sitting in for director Doug Aberley, said the RDMW was welcome to expand the program to Cormorant Island. Donaghy replied he would be happy to sit down and discuss protocol for starting a similar free bike loan program with any local municipality interested.

 

Bella Bella success

Donaghy was invited on behalf of the RDMW to attend the official opening of the community’s recycling depot and transfer station, which he said has transformed a crisis situation into a model program now being studied by other small coastal sites.

“Of particular interest is their new composting structure, that has been sized for serving a population of 1,000 people,” Donaghy said. He added the RDMW was specifically thanked at the ceremony for helping mentor the solid waste program in Bella Bella.

 

Long says so long

RDMW Planning Manager Jeff Long gave his final report to the board, but he won’t be going far in his next job. Long has been hired by the District of Port Hardy, effective Nov. 19, to take over as Director of Corporate Services for Gloria Le Gal, who is retiring. He will also take on planning duties there.

“I just want to express my sincere appreciation at the opportunity to have worked for the regional district for the last three years,” said Long. “I’ve enjoyed working here with the staff and the two boards I’ve served under.

“And I expect I’ll be working with the regional district closely in my capacity with the District of Port Hardy.”

The board thanked Long for his service.