Locals want pedestrian path along Bowker Creek at Oak Bay Recreation Centre parking lot

Ruth Currey, left, and Ian Graeme stand by Bowker Creek between the Oak Bay High School field and track. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)Ruth Currey, left, and Ian Graeme stand by Bowker Creek between the Oak Bay High School field and track. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)
Ruth Currey, a member of Friends of Bowker Creek stands by Bowker Creek near the northeastern corner of the Oak Bay Recreation Centre's parking lot. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)
Ruth Currey, right, and Ian Graeme stand by Bowker Creek between the Oak Bay High School field and track. (Jake Romphf/News Staff) (Jake Romphf/News Staff)Ruth Currey, right, and Ian Graeme stand by Bowker Creek between the Oak Bay High School field and track. (Jake Romphf/News Staff) (Jake Romphf/News Staff)
Ruth Currey, front, and Ian Graeme stand by a thin foot path along Bowker Creek near the north edge of Oak Bay Recreation Centre’s parking lot. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)Ruth Currey, front, and Ian Graeme stand by a thin foot path along Bowker Creek near the north edge of Oak Bay Recreation Centre’s parking lot. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)

As Oak Bay prepares to resurface some of its recreation centre’s parking lot, some locals want the project to include a pedestrian path along the section that borders Bowker Creek.

The creek runs for about 100 metres along the parking lot’s north edge and there’s little space to walk between its banks and a row of parking spaces.

Ian Graeme hopes council will reconfigure the parking lot to better utilize the creek’s ecology and connect it to the more developed creekside walkway to the east.

The north edge of Oak Bay Recreation Centre’s parking lot.(Jake Romphf/News Staff)

“I think it’s a big opportunity to do things differently,” Graeme told council during its April 26 meeting.

Just east of the lot is a paved path that runs between Oak Bay High School and various recreation facilities.

Graeme hopes a new path could be a safe connection to the already revitalized walkway along Bowker Creek for seniors and those with mobility issues.

“Something you could do with very little expenditure is rededicate some of those parking spaces adjacent to the creek and just make that a safe, connecting pathway,” Graeme said.

“If you had this better linkage via this continuous walkway, I think there would be some real benefits there.”

READ: Ten years in, Greater Victoria’s 100-year Bowker Creek blueprint gets a boost

Council adopted the 2021 to 2025 financial plan on May 10. The plan includes $350,000 to repave the centre’s upper and lower parking lots this year.

The work will start in June but will be limited to the lower section and some minor patches on the upper level. Daniel Horan, Oak Bay’s director of engineering and public works, said that’s because they’re waiting on some assessment results that are needed to better understand what work the creek’s south bank, along the parking lot, will require in the short and medium term.

“The project may include a path, bank remediation, or other (items) as the detailed design work is completed – but as nothing can be done without financial approval, it was important to have this in the approved budget,” said Oak Bay Mayor Kevin Murdoch, in an email.

Graeme said the creek is a “wonderful natural fixture running through the neighbourhood,” but the stretch along the parking lot isn’t currently very esthetically pleasing, which one Oak Bay councillor agreed with at the April 26 meeting.

“That particular stretch of Bowker Creek, I’ve always looked at with a little bit of sorrow because it has such potential,” said Coun. Eric Wood Zhelka.

READ: Oak Bay declares a decade of ecological restoration

Ruth Currey, a member of the Friends of Bowker Creek, said locals are very invested in the creek, and a path linkage from the parking lot would enhance the whole area.

“It could be such a community draw,” she said.

Horan noted council will get a report this summer that will spur the “bigger picture” plans for the creek.

READ: Oak Bay dad dies mountain biking near Shawnigan Lake


 

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