After hearing from nearly 4,000 residents throughout the Capital Region, the City of Colwood has decided to keep the 400-metre section along the Esquimalt Lagoon closed until September, due to COVID-19.
Vehicles can still access the beach from either end of Ocean Boulevard and park in all the usual areas on either side of the closure.
The city said it received a significant amount of feedback from the community, both in favour of closing the road as well as keeping it open for traffic. Many families, pedestrians and bikers say they enjoy the area without traffic, others said they were frustrated with not being able to drive through.
According to a statement on the city website, 86 per cent of respondents say they use Ocean Boulevard as a destination to enjoy the beach, bird sanctuary, views and activities, and 14 per cent say they used it as a drive-through route to get to other destinations.
About half (55 per cent) of Colwood residents favour keeping the road open to through traffic long term, while the other half (45 per cent) prefer some form of closure. When feedback is expanded to those living outside of Colwood, those who favour through traffic raised to 61 per cent.
Council is hoping to take advantage of lower traffic volumes due to the pandemic and summer schedules to extend this temporary use of the area as a park and plan for improvements.
During the closure, the city says it will scope out a project to develop concepts for transportation and public realm enhancements along the Esquimalt Lagoon.
A series of conceptual options will be developed for improvements like a multi-use trail from the Lagoon Beach to Royal Beach, as well as washroom facilities and attractive and accessible park amenities. Alternatives will be presented for two lanes of traffic as well as single lane and temporal closure.
Traffic at the Lagoon was originally limited at the end of March to discourage large gatherings of people and to encourage residents to maintain a physical distance, and discourage people from travelling to visit the Colwood beach.
In April, the city took the opportunity of the closed road to repair the road surface and implement drainage improvements.
Vehicle and parking access increased from the Lagoon Road end of the beach in May, and in June, the boulevard was opened to vehicle access from both sides of the Lagoon, with a small closure about midway along.
For now, the Lagoon’s middle section will remain closed until September, while the city works on projects to