NDP MP Gord Johns will be conducting what he calls a “historic ride” through his riding of Courtenay-Alberni.
The Ride the Riding, which will take place from Aug. 21 to Sept. 2, will have Johns cycling through his riding which he said is more than 8,500 sq. km and includes four regional districts, seven municipalities, 10 nations and three Island trust areas that represent larger island communities.
“It’s an opportunity for me to get out in the communities, to hear from people at a grassroots level and hear about their issues,” Johns said.
The ride will start in Hesquiaht and end in Courtenay with stops in Whiskey Creek, Coombs, Errington, Nanoose Bay, Parksville, Qualicum Beach, Lasqueti Island and Bowser.
“When I ran in 2015, I made a promise to the people of Courtenay-Alberni that I would represent everyone,” Johns said. “In our riding, that includes communities that are small, some as small as the community of Hesquiaht with only 45 people living there, ranging to Bamfield to communities like Dashwood and French Creek and of course the larger centres like Port Alberni, Courtenay, Parksville, Qualicum.”
Once Johns arrives at each location, he will be hosting pop-up coffee houses to hear from constituents. He said he will hear about the residents’ issues and what’s important to them so he can bring it back to Ottawa in the fall.
“We just thought it would be appropriate halfway through the term to do it by bike and do it at the grassroots level. It gives me a chance to see things that you typically wouldn’t see in a vehicle and really connect with the communities at another level and with the people that are going to be participating,” he said.
This ride is also a way for Johns to highlight his Private Members Bill C-312: An Act to Establish a National Cycling Strategy. According to John’s website, a national cycling strategy will commit the federal government to set clear targets for the expansion of cycling-friendly infrastructure, improve national safety standard measures and support the cycling industry in Canada.
While Johns said cycling tourism is strong in Ontario and Quebec, he added, “We have really been missing the boat, I would say, on Vancouver Island and British Columbia.”
Johns said he’s been working with local groups in the area, adding they are very excited about the Ride the Riding and the bill, “especially that it’s coming from our riding that we know we lack a lot of safe cycling infrastructure and we have a huge opportunity to grow the economy through cycling tourism.”
The City of Parksville recently received $179,890 in BikeBC funding from the provincial government. The funding is for Parksville’s Jensen Avenue Greenway project. The Town of Qualicum Beach recently upgraded some of its bike lanes along Village Way during its Memorial Avenue upgrades.