Colwood residents will soon get the opportunity to weigh in on the city’s ambitious plans for the future of its waterfront.
But before council discusses preliminary options for the waterfront improvement plan at its July 12 meeting, Mayor Rob Martin will be lobbying June 28 for weekend summer closures of a 400-metre section of Ocean Boulevard along Esquimalt Lagoon.
Martin’s motion calls for the beachfront stretch of road to be closed to vehicle traffic from Friday afternoon until Sunday evening during July and August, to accommodate special events and food trucks.
“If the motion passes, drivers will still be able to access the beach from both ends of Ocean Boulevard in all the usual areas,” Martin said. “Weekend closure would allow for a small, 400-metre, safe, walkable park space midway along the beach for people to enjoy without cars speeding by.”
On July 12 council may also touch on the long-term future of the two-kilometre waterfront section of Ocean Boulevard as part of the city’s vision for the 4K stretch of waterfront from the north end of the lagoon to the Royal Beach area.
Preliminary concepts released last week include multi-use pathways, gathering places, and other amenities. An ocean access mat midway along Ocean Boulevard, a craft dock in the lagoon, an events and interpretive centre, viewing docks and increased access for people with disabilities are on the table as some of the concepts under discussion.
Martin indicated last week that safety, accessibility, and protection of the unique ecological features along the waterfront are important considerations. He believes the 10-year plan will draw a significant response from Colwood residents.
The contentious issue of traffic along Ocean Boulevard will be central to such discussions, as issues regarding safety, speed, wildlife and the ecosystems along that stretch of road have been hot topics in recent years.
Although the road was closed to vehicle traffic at the onset of the pandemic, it reopened in the fall of 2020 after an online survey showed more than 60 per cent were in favour of reopening, while a little more than 20 per cent opted for seasonal closures.
For more details on the waterfront improvement plan, go online to bit.ly/3zKL7ru.