A proposal to realign a portion of the E&N Rail Trail Humpback Connector to increase commuter options from the West Shore to downtown Victoria is currently in the works.
The Capital Regional District recently hosted an open house to highlight the proposed design for the one-kilometre section, which would run from where the railway currently crosses at Atkins Avenue and connect to a segment of existing trail at Savory Elementary school in Langford.
“There was a lot of enthusiasm for the trail. A lot of folks were very excited to see us building this next segment of trail,” said Brett Hudson, manager of planning, resource management and development with CRD Regional Parks.
“We’re hoping this is going to give folks another commuting option from Langford to downtown. This trail, like the other regional trails that we’ve got, function to connect the communities within the Capital Regional District from one side to the other.
“This trail will give people both a recreational corridor for active recreation and a transportation corridor that will help people use non-motorized transporation.”
The proposed alignment is phase three of the five-phase E&N Rail Trail Humpback Connector project. Once complete, the project, which started in 2009, will span 17 kilometres from Humpback Road to the Johnson Street Bridge. Thus far, roughly 10 kilometres of the trail has been completed.
But not everyone is happy with the current proposed designs. Royal Roads University professor Leslie King and several residents that live on Atkins Avenue believe the alignment could cause damage to sensitive, riparian ecosystems.
In a letter to the CRD, they said it could damage a salmon stream, destroy habitat in the Millstream corridor, disturb nearby nesting birds and destroy mature Douglas Firs and Big-leaf maples.
“Langford is growing rapidly and development appears to have taken over any unprotected natural areas,” the letter said. “We believe we have a responsibility to present and future residents to protect what little biodiversity we have left. [The] CRD should serve as a steward of these natural areas.”
Hudson said feedback will be compiled and given to the design team to see what changes, if any, can be made to avoid or mitigate the concerns that people have raised. An environmental assessment of the corridor is currently underway as well.
“We’ll be looking very carefully at what the environmental impacts are,” he said.
Once the project has been put to tender, construction is expected to start in early 2019, with the section completed next fall.
For more information visit crd.bc.ca.