Ocean Boulevard in Colwood will reopen next week after vehicle traffic was limited along the beach at the end of March to encourage social distancing.
During Monday’s council meeting, a motion to reopen the road on Sept. 8 passed unopposed.
The closure has been called a “contentious” issue by some councillors, that sparked “passion” within residents on both sides of the argument.
A survey looking for public feedback on the closure received almost 4,000 responses but less than half were from Colwood residents and among residents, just over 50 per cent were in favor of opening the road to through traffic.
Coun. Doug Kobayashi said he felt “very, very strongly” about reopening the road because of the lack of public input prior to the closure.
“This was just insanity, to me, to start off with,” he said. “I’d like to see this open and then have the proper debate.”
An option proposed by Coun. Michael Baxter when the road was first closed was to leave it open during the week and close it on the weekends so “both sides could get what they wanted.” He voiced his support for opening the road so the other half of the population gets its “turn.”
According to Coun. Gordie Logan, people have been using the space more because they feel safer with the road closed, adding this was an important factor to take into consideration and hoped for more serious discussions around the topic in the future.
Mayor Rob Martin said he was frustrated that some people thought the survey results should be “binding” rather than a tool to gauge public opinion. He added that he would consider holding a referendum next election to make a binding decision.
“I know it has been contentious for the community but I think this council represents who this community is and I’m proud of the fact that even though we’re frustrated with each other at times we have continued to work hard and be successful together,” said Martin.