Cost-effective stairway solution found for Witty’s ramp

Stairs to popular regional park in Metchosin to be replaced

The descent to Witty’s Lagoon will soon be paved in aluminum.

The Capital Regional District forwarded $100,000 to the District of Metchosin to replace wooden stairs at Witty’s Lagoon Regional Park. The expected cost of replacement is a far cry from previous reports that stabilizing the slope and replacing the stairway could cost as much as $1.3 million.

“(About) 30,000 people a year use these stairs and it seemed to me to deny that kind of usage for the region … didn’t make sense,” Metchosin Mayor John Ranns said. “We basically applied a little rural common sense to it and came up with something that cost 1/13th of what they said it would.”

The wooden stairs, currently sitting on a Metchosin right of way, will be removed and replaced with aluminum stairs cantilevered over the slope in question. The $100,000 price tag covers the cost of removing the existing wood, building and installing the new stairs and fencing, plus a contingency fund. From then on, Metchosin would care for the stairs that were once the responsibility of the CRD.

Besides having an engineering company work on the slope, Ranns said “we also had our own engineering company make sure that those stairs are going to be adequate for handling that volume and won’t be a liability. We anticipate there being no problems with the stairs for many, many years.”

Work began this week and the estimated completion date is the first week of July. There will be no access to the stairs off the entrance at Witty Beach Road until construction is complete.

Those wishing to access the lagoon are asked to enter at the CRD parking lot near William Head Road and Parry Road across from the Metchosin Golf Course, where a trail also leads down to the lagoon. The walk is longer than the traditional trek down the stairs and while scenic, Ranns said, it takes 20 to 30 minutes to access the same area.

“It’s a beautiful park and a lot of people use it, (so we tried) to find ways to accommodate them and that is what we did. Council was very co-operative; they unanimously agreed that this was a very good idea. It’s sort of like a regional responsibility thing. We’re all in this together.”

Ranns, who used the stairway as a child six decades ago,  expects the new stairs to last 30 to 50 years. The project also spoke to other more contentious issues in the region, he said.

“I think it’s an example of what can be accomplished when you apply a little bit of common sense and patience to a problem,” he said. “I am convinced that similar solutions could be found for the (sewage treatment project) if the same principles were applied.”

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