With Burnett Road improvements now in the View Royal budget, the town’s traffic advisory committee is shifting its focus to another troubled trail.
The committee is recommending the town spend $55,000 to improve safety for pedestrians on the north end of Watkiss Way and on a stretch of the Galloping Goose running alongside the road.
Committee volunteer member Ron Armstrong said a visit to the area at night was all he needed to be convinced of the need for improvements.
“I was taken aback by the lack of lighting. It felt very unsafe,” he said. “It’s like this area’s been orphaned from other considerations.”
Many stretches of the Galloping Goose near Watkiss are dark and sheltered at night.
“The Goose is just too dark at night for people to feel safe,” said committee chair, Coun. Ron Mattson. “If you look at this, if you were to try to walk down here at night when it’s pouring rain and dark, you’re not going to feel all that comfortable.”
Money is already earmarked in this years budget for a new raised crosswalk at Marler Drive, to provide a place to cross the street to access the Goose.
Additional improvements being recommended include increasing lighting along the trail, taking out bushes which hide the Goose from the road, installing a raised curb to separate the shoulder from the driving lane along long stretches of the road and adding a crosswalk by Francis View Drive.
The $55,000 budget includes everything except repainting road lines to make room for the curbs. Mattson said the package is a relatively low-cost option compared with creating sidewalks and installing speed humps, but can have significant impact to the area.
Area residents have told Mattson they feel as though they live in the forgotten neighbourhood of View Royal. Improvements to roads and infrastructure on the other side of the Trans-Canada Highway are common, while Watkiss Way has remained relatively unchanged, despite new developments and subsequent increased traffic.
East of Burnside Road West, additional raised curbs are planned to separate the shoulder from the road for pedestrians, though with a reduced priority. A crosswalk across Burnside Road West near Kami Crescent is also under consideration.
While Watkiss is not currently a high-traffic area for pedestrians, Armstrong said that’s not the point.
“Stroll pedestrians is what we’re talking about, recreational pedestrians. But they have a right to go strolling. We’re living in an age of combating obesity and everything else, so one of the best ways is to go for a walk.”
The recommendation will go to the town’s finance committee next to determine whether it fits into the budget. From there the budget needs to be approved by council.