Metchosin council has approved a plan to upgrade Sea Bluff Trail to an all-weather footpath with appropriate drainage.
Construction was due to start this week, and even Mayor John Ranns planned to be there early on, operating a backhoe. Ranns is enthusiastic about getting this item off his desk, noting that it’s been a subject of complaints for 10 years.
One section of the circular trail has been closed since October so the adjacent landowner, Metchosin Farm, could clear sediment from an old irrigation pond that became a safety issue when a large tree fell into it in a storm two winters ago.
The scenic Sea Bluff Trail winds through working farms at the end of Wootton Road. It was granted to the district in the late 1980s by farmer and landowner Geoff Mitchell, whose children and grandchildren still farm some of that land today – including 84-year-old Bob Mitchell, who runs Sea Bluff Farm.
Geoff Mitchell donated the trail “so this public footpath and spectacular view can be shared by all Metchosin residents in perpetuity,” the plaque commemorating his contribution states. But it’s just a right of way, it’s still private land.
When Fiona Hamersley Chambers, who bought Metchosin Farm 17 years ago, told Ranns she needed to dig out the sediment, he seized on the opportunity to address drainage issues that have plagued the trail from day one. Ranns was mayor when Mitchell bequeathed the right of way, and has been hearing complaints about impassable muddy puddles every year since.
The engineer-developed plan will see the trail, used and loved by both equestrians and pedestrians, moved away from the Metchosin Farm berm toward the fence line. It will be filled with aggregate to help with chronic drainage issues.
No cost estimate for the work was available with CAO Lisa Urlacher absent from the June 22 special meeting of council, but Ranns was confident the budget had already been allocated. Council approved the construction plan, putting district engineer Allan Herle in charge, and asked for a report on costs as soon as possible.
Locals have raised concerns with council since October, over issues such as the cost of repairs and whether adjacent landowners would be required to pay, as well as requesting public input and consultation on the plan.
The completion date is still unknown, as the total scope of work hasn’t been determined. Ranns said council might decide to upgrade more parts of the trail, or limit it to the area at the irrigation dugout.
Since the path traverses through working farms with sheep, horses and dogs, trail users are reminded to close gates after they pass through. Appropriate footwear is recommended.
Do you have a story tip? Email: email@example.com.