It could be a much-needed safety improvement, or it could be proof of the “wussification” of modern society. However you look at it, the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority’s plan to put handrails on the Ogden Point breakwater has Victorians in a lather.
The authority announced Wednesday it will spend $500,000 to install rails on the 700-metre breakwater, a popular part of Victoria’s waterfront that is walked by about 500,000 people a year.
The authority says it will allow access to people in wheelchairs and those with balance problems, and will address insurance concerns.
Those who like the idea include parents who have seen toddlers tottering near the edge and others who think greater safety would encourage more people to ramble along the top of the 8,000 granite blocks that make up the structure. They point to the handful of people who have fallen.
For many, however, the handrail is an abomination that would mar the appearance of a classic vista and would ruin the experience of walking free above the ocean. Anyone who is scared of the edge should stay off, they say. They wonder about access for anglers and divers, who like to walk out to the end of the breakwater to drop their lures or themselves into the ocean.
Some see a granite structure that was in keeping with the Island’s surrounding rock being turned into something as garish as an amusement park.
It’s clear that both sides love this enduring slice of Victoria history, but on balance, handrails will be a good addition if they get more people to enjoy the breakwater.
© Copyright 2013