Multi-Use Path Project

Construction of a cross-island Multi-Use Path (MUP) will provide a safe way for all ages and abilities to walk and cycle across the island. The MUP is also designed to accommodate equestrians  On this page, find information on why the MUP came to be, when it will be built and what it will look like.  Also, check back regularly for the latest progress on planning and construction!


Current Work

July 20, 2021 – Phase 1 & 3 have completed construction!  The MUP now provides a safe walking and biking connection from the Bowen Island Community School to Carter Road and Artisan Lane.  Finishing touches, such as physical barriers, signage and pavement markings, will be installed over the next few months. 

A $647,000 grant (COVID-19 Resilience Infrastructure Grant) was recently approved for Phase 2.  Construction is expected to start this Fall with a 2022 completion.

Phase 4 will look at connecting the MUP to mid-island.  This section involves significant challenges around steep slopes, environmentally sensitive areas and limited municipal land.  Various routings and designs will be explored for feasibility.  Staff will be pursuing funding to help facilitate the planning and design stage of this phase, with construction planned for 2023-24.

April 27, 2021 – The Bowen Island MUP is now officially part of the North Shore Spirit Trail!  Endorsement for inclusion has been received from all Spirit Trail partners.  This means the MUP is now part of an important regional active transportation network, which will increase access to more funding opportunities to help complete construction.  Look for the Spirit Trail logo throughout completed sections of the MUP! 

The Spirit Trail’s logo, named Shewalh Stelmexw (Sha-woth Stol-molth) – Squamish for ‘People’s Path’ - is representative of the connections the trail creates between various communities and their natural surroundings. The simple hand-drawn strokes of the logo merge human traits with the distinctive outlines of a North Shore landscape in a style that references the stone carvings of our Native ancestors.

Read older Project Updates


The MUP is the cornerstone of the Transportation Plan, which was adopted by Council in 2018.  In the years leading up to this adoption, over 1400 people were engaged to help shape the Plan.  Feedback across all stakeholder groups showed high demand for active transportation infrastructure to make walking and cycling around the island safer and easier.

Planning work began on the MUP in 2017 with preliminary design work and grant applications.  Based on this work, estimates for MUP timeline and costs were included in the Transportation Plan.  In 2019, a feasibility study was completed to further refine design options, which has resulted in significant changes to cost estimates and phasing (shown in the ‘Proposed MUP’ section below).

Also in 2019, the Province announced significant increase in funding for active transportation infrastructure.  This coincided with additional funding commitments from regional and federal governments, making the MUP a very timely project for financial viability.

Why is the Multi-Use Path important?


Bowen Island lacks active transportation infrastructure.  Of the 75 kilometres of public roads on the island, less than 0.5 km have sidewalks and those are only within the village.  Roads on the remainder of the island are built to a rural standard (single lane in each direction) with little or no shoulders.  The shoulders that are available are gravel and often narrow and not level.  Pedestrians, cyclists and equestrians are usually forced onto the vehicular travel lanes for part or all of their trip.  And the hilly island terrain results in many steep and winding roads that create additional hazards for those that brave walking or cycling.

The MUP is an important step in the Municipality’s commitment to realizing Vision Zero – to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries through safe, healthy and equitable mobility for all.


Inclusive Transportation

Many in the community would prefer active modes to get around Bowen, but they do not walk or cycle because of the lack of safe active transportation infrastructure.  For those with mobility challenges, such as wheelchairs or strollers, traveling Bowen roads without a car is not even an option.  The MUP will accommodate all ages and abilities to safely walk or cycle across the island, connecting residential neighbourhoods with key destinations, such as schools, services, shops, trailheads, and the island’s sole transportation hub in the village.  The MUP will also be the foundation upon which the island’s active transportation networks can be built to make getting around by foot or bike even faster and easier.

Island Health & Well-Being

Serving as the spine for the island’s greater pedestrian and cycling networks, the MUP will be integral in helping to achieve community goals in climate change action and public health by providing viable means to travel without a vehicle, to lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and for safely distanced physical activity outdoors.

The large majority of GHG emissions from Bowen Island come from transportation (~90%).  Improving active transportation infrastructure is considered a critical action to reduce GHG emissions, as detailed in the Climate Action Strategy, Community Energy Emissions Plan and Transportation Plan.  Such action will enable a shift to more active modes that are low- or zero-emissions.  Given the lack of active transportation infrastructure, the Multi-Use Path is a high priority for reduction of GHG emissions on Bowen Island.

Also, physical activity is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, contributing to physical, mental and social well-being.  Lack of physical activity can contribute to obesity, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and various cancers.  Active transportation is a key component of incorporating physical activity into daily lifestyles.  Healthy lifestyle choices contribute to fewer GHG emissions, less environmental impact, better air quality and promotion of environmental stewardship.

Community Support

In addition to the Transportation Plan, the MUP is supported by the Bowen Island Official Community Plan, Parks Plan, Climate Action Strategy, Community Energy Emissions Plan and School Travel Plan.

The three goals of the Transportation Plan are to have: 1) effective connections between people and places, 2) real choice for ways to get around and 2) a transportation system that is healthy for people and the environment.  Developing safe and efficient active transportation infrastructure was identified as key for all three goals, with the MUP at the heart of the active transportation networks.

The Official Community Plan section on transportation prioritizes active transportation, safety, more alternatives, integration, and reducing environmental impacts. The document contains 25 policies directly related to the need to better accommodate active transportation on the island. About half reference the design of the road network, with a specific policy to include a paved pedestrian path or sidewalk along all main roads. Five policies involve land use planning to create more walkable environments.

The Parks Plan supports active transportation networks, including the MUP, as integral to the development of parks and trails for individual and community health and wellness.  The MUP would help provide safe access to parks and trailheads for pedestrians, cyclists and equestrians.

Both the Climate Action Strategy and Community Energy Emissions Plan identify construction of the MUP as a critical action to reduce GHG emissions for Bowen Island.

The School Travel Plan identifies the MUP as the key action to address one of the top challenges for active travel to schools, which is the lack of safe and comfortable pedestrian and bicycle facilities.

Proposed MUP

The MUP is designed to be an all ages and abilities (AAA) facility that provides a safe and efficient connection across the island from Snug Cove to Tunstall Bay.

Where will the Multi-Use Path be built?

The proposed MUP route spans approximately 6.5 km, running through the island’s main street and several neighbourhoods, past a school and regional park, connecting to major trailheads and beaches, and ending at popular Tunstall Bay.  In some sections the MUP follows the existing Trans-Island Trail, which will involve upgrading from gravel trail of varying width and condition to AAA standards.  The proposed route is the outcome of engagement feedback, a stakeholder workshop, and technical feasibility review to provide the most useful and cost-effective cross-island connection.


The MUP is an extension of the North Shore Spirit Trail (via a water connection from Horseshoe Bay), completing over 40 kilometres of AAA pathway that showcases the region’s unique urban and natural elements.

When will the Multi-Use Path be built?

Due to high costs and intensive planning requirements, the MUP is a long-term infrastructure project with construction planned over 15-20 years (completion by 2038).  The MUP will be built in seven phases, plus a middle section that is due for completion with the development of the Grafton Lake lands (expected by 2030).  The construction schedule for each phase is highly dependent upon the technical requirements of that phase and available funding.  Phases 1-3 are expected to complete by 2022 and each phase to follow is estimated to take 2-3 years.

Phases 4 & 5 present the greatest hazards to pedestrians and cyclists, but are also the most technically challenging for construction with narrow roadways, sharp corners, steep slopes, riparian areas and unknown soil composition/stability.  Alternative routing or design standards may be considered to complete the MUP connection for these phases.

A combination of the Trans-Island Trail and gravel shoulders currently serve most of the sections identified for Phases 6 & 7 and, therefore, these phases are considered a lower priority and to be completed last.

What will the Multi-Use Path look like?

The MUP will be a 3-metre wide paved bi-directional path that is physically protected from vehicle traffic.  Municipal road standards were upgraded in 2018 to require a MUP along all main roads, along with technical specifications for construction.  The MUP may be on-road (contiguous pavement with vehicle lanes) or off-road, with preference for off-road where possible.

The MUP also follows specific Wayfinding Guidelines that details required signage and pavement markings.  These wayfinding elements are important for people to easily identify the MUP and navigate from place to place, and to establish sense of place.

The Wayfinding Guidelines were developed through a collaboration with the Bowen Island Community School, creative agency Rethink, and the Municipality.  As a part of this collaboration, a colourful piece of pavement art was created to celebrate the first section of MUP on Bowen Island (next to the school field).  Installation of the art was funded by TransLink.

As part of the Spirit Trail, the MUP wayfinding will also incorporate Spirit Trail design elements. The Spirit Trail’s logo, named Shewalh Stelmexw (Sha-woth Stol-molth) – Squamish for ‘People’s Path’ - is representative of the connections the trail creates between various communities and their natural surroundings. The simple hand-drawn strokes of the logo merge human traits with the distinctive outlines of a North Shore landscape in a style that references the stone carvings of our Native ancestors.

Project Updates

March 1, 2021 – Tender of Phase 1 has been awarded to Triex Contracting and construction scheduled to start early March through May.  Work will begin with site preparation near Mount Gardner Rd.  Road closure is not expected, but there will be periods of alternating single lane traffic.  There may also be partial closures of the off-road trail parallel to Grafton Rd.  Efforts are being taken to minimize traffic disruptions.  Please plan for delays - your patience and understanding much appreciated!

January 29, 2021 – Two funding applications submitted: $647,000 for 100% of Phase 2 costs (Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program: COVID-19 Resilience Infrastructure Stream) and $187,000 for 75% of Phase 3 costs (TransLink walking & cycling infrastructure grants).

January 18, 2021 - Detailed design of Phase 1 was completed beginning of January and tender documents are being prepared with an anticipated start of construction in March 2021. 

Phase 1 will connect the existing MUP at the Bowen Island Community School to Carter Rd.  On- and off-road options were investigated.  Locating the entire phase on-road was most feasible.  A key component of this phase is an intersection improvement at Mount Gardner Rd, which is particularly busy with ferry marshalling and student traffic.  The improvement will have better sightlines and traffic calming to help maintain safe vehicle speeds and awareness of pedestrians.

Last Updated on 2021-08-12 at 11:49 AM