A motion coming to Victoria’s committee of the whole meeting on May 14 could see vehicle access to Beacon Hill Park restricted in order to allow for more physical distancing space for pedestrians.
The motion, put forward by Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps and Coun. Jeremy Loveday, recommends council direct staff to keep the physical distancing measures in place in village centres and other locations, as well as looking into further opportunities to allocate more space for people to “walk and roll” safely. The motion’s aim is to proactively prepare for increased pedestrian traffic as people begin to leave their homes.
The motion also recommends the city implement a “pedestrian-only” approach to Beacon Hill Park for the summer, but would leave the main parking lot open to allow access for people with disabilities, by using “inexpensive and implementable means.”
Staff would report back to council with any feedback prior to council deciding whether this would be a permanent move.
“In the coming weeks and months as people return to work, as businesses re-open and as people begin to venture out into public spaces, our streets and sidewalks are going to see more people than they have during the pandemic,” reads the motion. “If we don’t allocate more space for pedestrians, this is going to make it impossible for people to safely physically distance as they move about the city and will also create accessibility concerns for people using wheelchairs or pushing strollers who can’t just easily step off the curb.”
The motion notes physical distancing measures could be in place for 12 to 18 months until a vaccine is developed and a key element in Victoria’s recovery is “to allocate more public spaces for people.”