Design planning for the David Foster Harbour Pathway is underway and Victoria city council has decided to make it a pedestrian-only walkway.
Council reluctantly endorsed the staff recommendation during a meeting last week.
According to a report, construction along the pathway to expand it for both cycling and pedestrian use could impact property ownership, rights-of-way, site contamination and archeological sites, and could increase the overall cost of the project and time of completion.
In 2008, council originally adopted the Victoria Harbour Pathway Plan, for the implementation of a continuous, five-kilometre pathway from Odgen Point to Rock Bay with an estimated price tag of $18.9 million, which does not include detailed design, property acquisition or leasing costs. Staff believe it will be closer to $27 million.
“We unfortunately have a situation where the pathway is a variable width, sharp turns, walls in some cases on one side and the requirements of making it adequate for cycling use would be just too onerous,” said Coun. Geoff Young. “We can address the demands for bicycle access in some other way.”
Coun. Jeremy Loveday said making the pathway suitable for both cyclists and pedestrians would increase the cost of the project — funds that could potentially be used for other capital projects.
“Looking at many waterfront cities around the world and they do have multi-modal paths. We have an opportunity to build that, but the opportunity isn’t as great as we thought and hoped,” he said. “The cost is too prohibitive. We could build most of a bicycle network for that cost.”
The next phase of the project is focused on improvements between Fisherman’s Wharf and the Johnson Street Bridge, including construction of two bridges at Heron Cove and Raymur Point, construction of pathway and park improvements around the Johnson Street Bridge, installation of signage along the pathway and public realm improvements along Belleville Terminal.
However, not everyone is happy with the decision.
Edward Pullman, president of the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition, said eliminating cycling from the pathway means council should focus more on establishing bike lanes on Belleville and Wharf streets as part of the Biketoria project to build a comprehensive network of bike lanes throughout the city.
“Now that the harbour pathway is no longer on the table, they (council) needs to reexamine seaside routes such as Belleville because there’s a huge value in the cycle tourism piece that needs to be focused on,” he said.