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Businesses call for pause, rethink on bike-lane plans for Equimalt Road

Council will possibly make changes and create alternative routes
Esquimalt council members heard concerns from local business owners regarding possible bike lanes being implemented on Esquimalt Road at a council meeting on May 13. (Bailey Seymour/The News)

Plans to add bike lanes down Esquimalt Road drew residents and business representatives to show support and air their concerns at Monday’s council meeting.

Over a dozen people spoke May 13 on the township’s plan to add bike lanes down Esquimalt Road at a council meeting on May 13.

“We need people to be able to park around my store in a close vicinity, and unfortunately that’s in front, so they can unload broken bikes,” said Marty Clough, owner of Marty’s Mountain Cycle on Esquimalt Road.

He and other business owners along the road said they were concerned that bike lanes would affect their businesses, saying there is already limited street parking along the road, and bike lanes would hinder that even more.

“It was brought to me that I had ample parking and I’ve always fought it knowing that my building does not have that parking, but what [we do have] is the streets, and by that being taken away from me, and my co-businesses beside me, it’s going to draw a big effect,” he said.

The township is close to requesting proposals to engage a design consultant for bike lanes along the road, which would include opportunities for community and council consultation.

Mark Eraut, a delegate to council who said he was representing 29 businesses along the road, said he doesn’t disagree with the bike lanes, but he would rather see them on another road adjacent to Esquimalt Road that has fewer businesses.

“Let’s put a pause on this. There are so many things that are happening in this area with construction and parking construction, can we get some consultation, there are better alternatives we feel for bike lanes,” said Eraut.

He said a good alternative would be to look at implementing bike lanes on Constance Avenue, Fraser Street, Lyall Street or other smaller streets throughout the township, rather than using Esquimalt Road, which is a major corridor that connects the township to the rest of Greater Victoria.

“I think we’re actually in a good place because for some reason bike lanes in Greater Victoria have been very polarizing in recent times,” Coun. Tim Morrison said.

Morrison added that, from both sides, everyone sees “the value of improving the east-west connection along our main corridor, but I’m also hearing some creativity as to how me make that work for everybody and make everyone happy.”

Mayor Barbara Desjardins agreed with Morrison, saying it’s wonderful to have the dialogue and to speak with both supporters of cycling and local business owners.

She put forward a motion to have township staff come back to council with a report laying out the entire procedure, relating to how the bike lanes will be implemented, which was passed unanimously.

She also wants to continue dialogue with cyclists and business owners as the plan changes and continues to move forward.

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Bailey Seymour

About the Author: Bailey Seymour

After graduating from SAIT and stint with the Calgary Herald, I ended up at the Nanaimo News Bulletin/Ladysmith Chronicle in March 2023
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