Advocates call for accessibility compromise on Clover Point proposal

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WatchA day before council votes on turning Clover Point into a pedestrian green space, there are more calls to make sure it's better accessible to seniors and those living with disabilities.

A day before council votes on turning Clover Point into a pedestrian green space, there are more calls to make sure it’s better accessible to seniors and those living with disabilities.

Victoria city councillor Stephen Andrew visited the point in a wheelchair Tuesday.

“People have been calling me and telling me there is a problem with accessibility issues on this slope and if we shut it [mostly] down to cars they won’t be able to make it down. So I came down here myself with wheelchair tried it for myself and it’s very very difficult,” said Andrew on Tuesday.

The proposal put forward by staff has 17 parking stalls in the point, with more on Dallas Road. There are also four accessible spots and a drop off zone.

READ MORE: City plans to transform Clover Point into green space for pedestrians

But some are also raising concerns with the city staff’s report, including accessibility advocate, David Willows.

“They include an accessibility impact statement. It fails to address any of the negative impacts and in doing so staff have not provided council with a full picture to make an informed decision,” said Willows.

The idea of a change for clover point has been floated before, following parties and car mischief in the area back in 1993 Councillor Geoff Young suggested bulldozing the route.

Now, Young is urging council to look at compromises for accessibility.

Councillor Jeremy Lovedays says he’s communicating with residents and is deciding how to vote or what amendments to propose.

Ray Straatsma of the Greater Victoria Placemaking Network says the existing road at Clover Point poses safety issues as there is no accessible path around the loop. He also says the Clover Point debate reflects the attachment people in the city have to public spaces.

“It’s another example like others, the bike path along Dallas road, or the railings on Ogden Point, that people get nervous about this kind of change. But cities and our urban spaces and urban parks do evolve over time to meet different needs and different uses.”

Meanwhile, Willows believes a compromise solution can be found.

“There’s a compromise to be had here,” said Willows. “We can increase the pedestrian-only area while retaining access for people with disability, seniors and the elders in our community by maintaining a parking lot on the west side.”

It’s something Andrew’s agrees with.

“We need to send it back to the drawing board and make a comprise here that’s going to fit all abilities, and I think that can be done,” Andrew said. “But if it’s all or nothing, to me it’s nothing.”

The future of clover point will be decided tomorrow during a city council meeting.

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