Coming this summer, walkers and bikers are free to roam the streets through Beacon Hill Park with no vehicle interference as Victoria council passed a motion to pedestrianize the outdoor space.
On Thursday, City Council voted to shut down the roads in the park to vehicles, including the parking lot atop the Beacon Hill Loop.
More parking will be added on Heywood Road, Circle Drive and Nursery Road, with 345 parking spots available. These will serve as the closest access point to the park for the duration of the summer.
Mayor Lisa Helps originated the motion to be seconded by Jeremy Loveday, but it was not a unanimous decision among council.
Councillor Charlayne Thornton-Joe raised some concerns about the park and Victoria’s older population.
“There are many seniors who have been kept alone from their families, and they are another group wanting to come out and enjoy the city and the memories that they have,” said Thornton-Joe.
She also had concerns about closing the parking lot at the top of the hill, something Councillor Lovegood, who seconded the motion, has previously questioned himself.
“I was considering putting that into motion, that it be at staff discretion – until hearing from staff,” explained Lovegood.
He said the staff themselves do not want to open the parking lot at this time, and after hearing their concerns, he believes leaving the parking lot closed is the best idea for now.
The motion was ultimately passed, with Thornton-Joe and Councillor Marianne Alto the only two opposed.
“This decision that we’ve come to today is a flexible and agile one and inclusive for as many people as possible,” said Helps.”It’s not perfect, but its a heck of a lot better than it was.”
The city has received plenty of feedback on the topic and says it will continue to take the public’s opinion into consideration throughout the summer.
Helps says the closure of roads to cars in Beacon Hill will be in place till the end of summer.
The idea of increasing pedestrian walkways in Victoria was brought up last week in another way, to allow businesses to spill their business out onto the streets to increase capacity and distance between customers.