Victoria seeks reduction in park short-cut traffic

New plan sees scaled-down changes to Beacon Hill roadways

A car passes parked cars and a parking sign along Arbutus Way in Beacon Hill Park. Victoria is considering changes to road access and parking in the park

After public outcry over proposed plans to close some roads to vehicles in Beacon Hill Park, more modest changes are in the works.

People were fearful of the unknown, said Coun. Charlayne Thornton Joe.

After reading the original plans, people thought “I can’t go here now,” she said Thursday at a city environment and infrastructure committee meeting. “We’re saying ‘yes you can.'”

Last year, staff recommended permanent closures of some sections of roads that run through the park. The closures have been scaled back and instead, cheaper, temporary measures such as bollards and signage were introduced last week.

The main changes now proposed entail removing parallel parking along Arbutus Road – the entrance to the park at the foot of Quadra Street – except for evenings and weekends; closing Bridge Way at the washrooms, but adding 15-minute parking stalls for seniors and young families; and closing Heywood Way between the cricket field and Circle Drive.

The road closures are mainly intended to prevent drivers from cutting through the park.

“This is meeting the concerns halfway,” said Doug DeMarzo, manager of parks planning and design.

It keeps the spirit of the original plan, to make the park as friendly as possible to pedestrians, while maintaining vehicle access to all the park’s major amenities.

In March, council directed staff to cut the project’s budget from $530,000 to $25,000.

The new “bare bones” plan has nixed a proposed perimeter trail, upgrades to the parking lots and other esthetic improvements.

Pending final approval by council, the parks department hopes to get started in July. From July through November, parks staff will survey the public about the changes. The results will determine whether the changes are reversed or maintained, and whether the project proceeds to the next phase.

rholmen@vicnews.com