A debate over restricting vehicle traffic on the Boulevard on Trail Bay in Sechelt dominated council’s discussion applying for a grant to cover part of the cost of improvements
Staff came to council Sept. 16 looking for approval to submit an application to the recently announced federal COVID-19 Community Resilience Grant program for one of two improvement plans.
The first option, for a total cost of $600,538 with the grant covering about $440,000, would involve “full closure of the Boulevard to vehicle traffic, by implementing two parking areas at each end of the Boulevard, including accessible stalls, and completing improvements to Windward Lane to ensure all existing residential properties have vehicular access from the lane.”
The second option, for at total cost of $465,419 with the grant covering $341,000, would keep the Boulevard as a single one-way lane, but narrow the lane to 2.8 metres with a 10 km/h speed limit and develop a separated multi-use path on the waterfront.
Coun. Alton Toth said he did not favour either option and was prepared to move a motion that the district not apply for the grant if it would lock them into either.
“I’m opposed to the closing of the Boulevard to both through traffic and parallel parking,” he said. “The community’s hardly unanimous on this idea and the loss of easy access to our waterfront.”
Toth said there will always be other grant opportunities for Boulevard improvements in the future and that if “as a council we’re determined to spend a half million dollars on a park,” he’d rather see an application to fund the East Porpoise Bay Esplanade trail.
“That has an option to actually increase our community’s access to the water rather than to restrict it for some people in our community,” he said.
Coun. Brenda Rowe said she preferred option two but was also concerned about being forced to follow either plan exactly as a condition of getting the funding.
“In the work that I’ve done and the company I’ve kept, I know that a lot of marginalized, and particularly seniors, enjoy that spot the way it is,” she said. “I just want to reiterate that if this moves forward and we go for funding, the plans as they are aren’t final because there are some concerns around even option two in my mind.”
In the end council voted to endorse an application for $600,538 to maximize the grant opportunity and fund improvements that would include “a narrow one-way westbound vehicle lane,” but with Mayor Darnelda Siegers and councillors Tom Lamb and Janice Kuester opposed.
“I will not be voting in favour of this personally,” Siegers said. “I do not want us to limit the community and staff to a decision that has been made pretty much by a very small number of people. I want greater community input so that what we end up building reflects what the community actually wants.”