Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns, foreground, crosses the Orange Bridge in Parksville with other cyclists during his Ride the Riding tour Sunday, Aug. 27, 2017. — J.R. Rardon photo

Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns, foreground, crosses the Orange Bridge in Parksville with other cyclists during his Ride the Riding tour Sunday, Aug. 27, 2017. — J.R. Rardon photo

Parksville Qualicum Beach cyclists join MP in ride through riding

Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns promotes national cycling strategy

Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns isn’t content to promote his bill calling for a national cycling strategy by hanging around the halls of Parliament in Ottawa. Over the past week, Johns has taken the case for Bill C-312 on a Ride the Riding cycling tour through his sprawling riding.

Johns and an entourage of fellow bicyclists arrived in the Parksville Qualicum Beach area Saturday, Aug. 26, after crossing “the Hump” from Port Alberni on a tour that began Aug. 21 on the west coast. He spent four days cycling with other riders through Hillers/Coombs, Nanoose Bay, Parksville, Qualicum Beach, Lasqueti Island, Qualicum Bay and Bowser/Deep Bay before departing for the final northern run to Denman Island, Cumberland and Courtenay/Comox, where the tour will end Sept. 2.

“For a riding our size, 8,500 square kilometres, 10 (First) Nations, seven municipalities, four regional districts and numerous small communities along the way, we’ve got some incredible natural assets and community assets,” he said before departing from his constituency office in Parksville on a ride to Qualicum Beach Sunday, Aug. 27. “We’ve got a lot going for us. We’ve got a lot of hope and a lot of opportunity, but we’ve also got a lot of needs.”

Among those, Johns said, is the need to establish regional active transportation networks. Many municipalities and local volunteer groups are doing great work in establishing cycling and pedestrian trails, he said, but they’re getting precious little assistance from Ottawa.

That’s what he hopes to change with the introduction of Bill C-312: An Act to establish a national cycling strategy.

“The steps of our bill and our advocacy are to do the Ride the Riding, then call cities and provinces to get behind our bill,” Johns told a gathering of more than a dozen riders in Parksville Sunday. “But some cities have decided they can’t wait. Toronto has endorsed our bill; Port Alberni has endorsed our bill; Cumberland has endorsed our bill.

“I’ve spoken to the elected officials in Victoria, Vancouver and Calgary and their mayors are excited about our bill. ‘Bring it to us,’ they said.

Johns said Canada lags behind many other developed nations in cycling indicators, including the number of children riding bikes to school. A federal investment in cycling infrastructure, he added, would benefit the environment and the health of Canadians, as well as boosting the economy through cycling tourism and reduced wear and tear on highways and roads.

“The people that are riding, the people that are here today, you’re part of something very special,” Johns told the riders at his Parksville constituency office Sunday. “You’re part of our story, and we’re connected now, through making change happen.”

Residents may support Bill C-312 by signing an online petition linked to Johns’ website at gordjohns.ndp.ca.