Results are out for an annual contest that looks to find the capital region’s worst sidewalks.
The winning entry of #JankyJune, a photo contest sponsored by pedestrian advocacy group Walk On, Victoria, features a thin strip of sidewalk opposite Camosun College on Lansdowne Road. Janky is slang for poor quality.
“It was actually scary,” said Chad Gaucher, whose winning photo featured a bus driving past.
Gaucher, who often goes past this sidewalk on his way to the grocery store, said he’s seen cyclists unable to bring their bikes along because it’s simply too narrow for both a bike and a person.
On Sunday, a woman walked on the busy roadway while pushing her bike on the sidewalk. “It just looks so dangerous,” Gaucher said.
Saanich Mayor Dean Murdock said that there’s at least an alternative all-access path on the other side of the road. “But that doesn’t get us off the hook for the complete lack of walkability,” he said.
Saanich’s first-ever road safety action plan report will be coming to council this fall, and Gaucher has already submitted the offending sidewalk into the district’s online submission page where residents can map out unsafe areas.
“We’ve been fortunate to have a lot of that data coming in to help inform the development of the plan, which is to be a great guide for us to steer investments in infrastructure that makes it safer, more comfortable, and convenient for people to get around in Saanich,” Murdock said.
The runner-up photo features a residential sidewalk on Granite Street in Oak Bay that curves around a tree and turns into a staircase, with no ramp for wheelchair access.
Oak Bay Mayor Kevin Murdoch said he’s familiar with Granite Street sidewalk, which he called “the most curious” example but not necessarily the most urgent problem in terms of accessible sidewalks in the district.
Similar to Lansdowne Road, there’s a more accessible sidewalk on the other side of the street.
Murdoch said that Oak Bay staff have completed an assessment of the district’s sidewalk inventory and council will soon be receiving a report identifying which streets should be prioritized for upgrades.
“Every corner of every street should have a curb cut in it,” he said.
The district is hoping to stack up sidewalk upgrades with much-needed infrastructure repairs in the district, Murdoch said. A report in 2021 found that a “significant portion” of the district’s water, sanitary sewer, storm and road assets are in dire need of replacement and are past “recommended useful life.”
“We can’t afford to fix a road and then three years later, go in and dig it all up to replace the pipe,” Murdoch said.
Contest organizer Natasha Moroz said that while the winner and runnerup are each getting a $50 prize, the contest is mainly to create productive dialogue about municipal infrastructure.
“People really went out of their way,” she said of this year’s entries, which heavily featured areas outside of downtown Victoria core.
Founded in 2014, Walk On, Victoria is a volunteer group that promotes safe, comfortable pedestrian infrastructure around the region. It has run the #JankyJune photo contest since 2022.
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