Victoria city staff have come up with a couple of new options for creating a pedestrian friendly area at the southern tip of Clover Point Park — including one that would still allow some vehicle access to the waterfront.
Council asked for the revised plans this month after a proposal to block off the point’s paved loop and create a car-free zone sparked a heated debate.
Councillors said they were flooded with calls and emails from people lining up on both sides of the issue.
The initial proposal from Thomas Soulliere, director of parks, recreation and facilities, recommended permanently closing the loop to cars and creating a parking lot next to it with 17 spaces, including four accessible stalls and a larger drop-off and pick-up zone. That would have resulted in a loss of about 73 parking spaces in the 4.2 hectare park.
One of the new options in a report going to council on Thursday is a variation on Soulliere’s original proposal but with additional parking for people with disabilities.
The new configuration has 15 parking spots within the park — 10 of which would be accessible stalls. Most of the spots would be adjacent to a new multi-use pathway, while four accessible spaces would be directly beside the new pedestrian-only area.
Soulliere and Justin Dykstra, manager of park design and construction, state in the report that closing the loop to vehicles would give “citizens on foot, on bike or using mobility aids exclusive access to the waterfront in the park.”
It would also allow the city to “complete a continuous pedestrian waterfront route from the breakwater at Ogden Point to Ross Bay beach access at Memorial Crescent.”
The second option involves only a partial closure of the loop. The west side would be blocked off to vehicles while the east side would remain open with parking spots and a place for vehicles to turnaround.
This configuration would allow for a total of 25 parking spaces. Eight regular stalls and six accessible spaces would be at the water’s edge with a split-rail fence separating the parking area from the new pedestrian-only zone.
The first option would add 3,600 square metres of space for pedestrians at a cost of about $260,000, while the option that still allows vehicle access to the waterfront adds 2,400 square metres of pedestrian space at a cost of $275,000 due to extra signage, pavement markings, bollards and fencing.
Soulliere and Dykstra note that a full, rather than a partial, closure of the loop would have the added benefit of protecting the environment as well as wildlife in the Victoria Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary by removing vehicles and pollutants from the waterfront.
A third option would be for council to leave the loop as it is, with full vehicle access, until a long-term plan for the park is developed, states the report, which was published on the city’s website late Monday afternoon.
Council will consider the options Thursday. Staff warn that “times is of the essence” if the city wants to have some of the work done by contractors currently completing work on the Clover Point wastewater pump station.