Denniston Park safety solutions ‘absurd, ridiculous’

Esquimalt residents asked for feedback to improve Denniston Park

Esquimalt residents are fuming over what they say are unrealistic options to address safety concerns at an oceanside public park.

“They want to leave it the way it is,” said Ian Black, who lives near Denniston Park.

The park’s waterfront path remains under lock and key after an insurance report raised concerns that someone could be injured or die there.

The township dumped boulders there in April, prompting dozens of residents to call on council to restore the park. It was, but the gate remains locked.

Based on residents’ input, township staff designed and priced three options to improve park safety, which were presented earlier this month. These included replacing the gate with another gate and adding a railing for $5,000.

Or the walkway, which is a pipe encased in cement, could be topped with a wooden boardwalk for $260,000, or a $360,000 steel walkway. For $680,000, the encasement could be replaced with a a widened cement walkway, which Black called “absurd.”

“It just seems ridiculous for something they have to maintain,” said park-goer Heidi Hackman, adding that the walkway could also be decommissioned and the coastline made rocky again.

She was less concerned with options, ranging from $30,000 to $110,000, that would address path erosion, closer to the park entrance.

Black doesn’t know why more options weren’t costed, including one he suggested in June.

“What pisses me off is nobody worked anywhere in between the $5,000 and $260,000 (range), as if to say, ‘You guys want this (then) it’s going to cost so much money that the municipality is not going to be able to afford it.'” he said.

The options were based on public feedback, said Mayor Barb Desjardins, adding that the costs are expensive because the site is “dangerous,” and may require “habitat remediation.”

The expense concerns her.

“If I want to generate this kind of money for that park, and I have no other ability to get grants, pulling it out of the pockets of residents would translate to a three-per-cent tax increase,” said Desjardins.

Residents have until Nov. 29 to hand in their comment sheets on the design options.