City staff are ready to start planning a new cycling network for Merritt thanks to a $25,000 grant from BikeBC.

The funding covers half of the estimated cost of developing a cycling network in Merritt. The other half is set to be covered by the city after council gave the green light for a funding match at a regular meeting on Feb. 12.

Securing the funds was the first step in planning a new cycling network for the city, said Merritt’s manager of tourism and economic development Will George.

“There are all these different plans that talk about active living, alternative transportation, but there isn’t one that helps identify the cycling and alternate modes of transportation between our residential areas and our commercial areas,” he said, noting those connections will be front of mind moving forward. “So we need a plan in place to assist with that.”

Options for the network include bike lanes, separated bike paths, shared roadways, multi-use paths and shoulder lanes on roads.

The community can expect opportunities to share their ideas when it comes to planning new bike paths in town, George said.

“We will be asking lots of questions about what exactly we should have in place, some separate routes, long-term plan and maintenance — that’s always something that we need to think about,” George said.

Once the city has an idea of where the community wants to go with the network, George will seek construction quotes and apply for further grants to put the plan into motion.

BikeBC has another grant opportunity which could provide 75 per cent of the funding required for implementation, George said.

The City of Merritt also received $100,000 in provincial dollars last month for six projects to enhance tourism and the local economy.

The grant will allow the city to hire a grant writer, as well as well as attract more events and festivals to the area, continue the youth entrepreneurship program, tune up Merritt’s signs and trailhead markers as well as update the community’s investment-ready profile online.

“It’s great that the City of Merritt the funds, but it’s also excellent to see overall that our region has received so much funding,” he said, noting the TNRD, Logan Lake and several local First Nations bands were granted rural dividend funds as well this year.