Victoria City Council to consider banning vehicle access to Beacon Hill Park

Victoria City Council to consider banning vehicle access to Beacon Hill Park
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The City of Victoria is set to consider a vehicle ban in Beacon Hill Park this summer during an upcoming council meeting Thursday.

The City of Victoria is set to consider the motion of a vehicle ban in Beacon Hill Park this summer during a Council meeting upcoming on Thursday.

On May 14, Victoria City Council will be looking at an updated council member motion, put forward from Mayor Lisa Helps and councillor Jeremy Loveday, focused on increasing physical distancing for pedestrians in public spaces.

“In the coming weeks and months as people return to work, as businesses re-open and as people begin to venture out into public spaces, our streets and sidewalks are going to see more people than they have during the pandemic,” reads a statement in the member motion. ” If we don’t allocate more space for pedestrians, this is going to make it impossible for people to safely physically distance.”

The motion suggests that if people aren’t able to properly physically distance themselves then Victorians will not be able to do their part in following health and safety advice during the provincial economic restart plan. The motion also adds that if further distancing measures for pedestrians aren’t implemented, people won’t feel safe to go outside and therefore will not visit the businesses that are attempting to reopen.

One of the key recommendations set to be discussed is whether or not the City should ban vehicles in Beacon Hill Park for the duration of the summer.

The proposed vehicle ban would be applicable seven days of the week, while using “inexpensive and easily implementable means.” It would be applicable to roadways within the park, however, with the main parking lot remaining open.

This would serve as a pilot project, according to Mayor Helps’ motion, with staff reporting back to Council at the completion of summer. The decision would then be made on whether or not to implement the pedestrian-only restrictions permanently.

The 200-acre city property features a small network of roadways that navigate the interior of the park, allowing visitors to access certain amenities, such as the Beacon Hill Children’s Farm or the Checkers Pavillion, by vehicle.

“Local governments have limited fiscal means to offer large stimulus packages, and the Community Charter – the Provincial Act which governs local governments – prohibits local governments from supporting businesses,” reads the motion.

“But what local governments do have is jurisdiction over public space.”

Although many might agree with the concept of altering public spaces to safely accommodate more pedestrians, the sheer size of Beacon Hill Park could present challenges if vehicles were banned.

“Without proper infrastructure in place, like extensive parking and sufficient public transportation, all this does it make it harder for people who do not live directly in the vicinity of the park to use and enjoy it,” said one CHEK viewer in an e-mail.

“People who have reduced mobility, or want to bring their young kids or grandparents will now have to park at the edge and cart everything in.”

The motion ultimately points to the “health benefits” of people being able to move more freely without as many clustered areas.

A discussion is scheduled to take place surrounding this idea on May 14 at 9:00 am PT.

READ MORE: Trudeau says pandemic revealing ‘uncomfortable truths’ about Canadian senior care as gov’t tops up financial aid




Graham CoxGraham Cox

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