A road in Beacon Hill Road remains pedestrian-only and now, a Victoria city councillor is proposing it partially reopen to two-way vehicle traffic to allow better access for people with disabilities.
Marg Gardiner’s motion is on council’s agenda and urges staff to reopen the north end of Arbutus Way at Southgate Street, while also introducing disability-designated parking along the west side of Arbutus.
“When I’ve had guests visiting over the years who cannot walk or cannot walk far due to, for example, a heart condition, I would use it and park here just so that they could enjoy sitting down on that bench right behind me for half an hour,” Gardiner told CHEK News.
The road was closed to vehicles at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. But unlike other roads in the park, it has yet to return to its original use, and the councillor says that’s made it difficult for some people to access amenities like Goodacre Lake.
“Those who need to come here with a vehicle and cannot walk long distances for whatever reason, have been shut out of this end of the park for a few years now,” she said.
“You have a bit of an intersection into the parking lot, which could be a turnaround point. People could come in, park that way, and leave that way.”
CHEK News spoke with park goers Tuesday, and feedback on the motion was mixed.
“We really need some parking for people to have access. I bring relatives and friends down and not everyone can walk or run. I think it would be brilliant,” said one person at the park.
“I don’t think it should be reopened. For example, my husband is dealing with dementia and Parkinson’s and having clear, open paths is a dream for us to walk,” added another.
According to Gardiner, the pickleball courts set up in the Arbustus Street parking lot, found near the park’s playground, wouldn’t be impacted if the motion comes to fruition.
“The motion doesn’t have the word pickleball in it because there’s no mention or even intent of removing these pickleball courts, which are here on a temporary basis according to how they were installed,” she explained.
The motion comes to council while a decision is still pending over a human rights complaint against the City of Victoria over a lack of vehicle access for people with disabilities.
“I think that the motion stands for itself, and people should read other things into it that aren’t there,” added Gardiner.
“It is clearly an effort to try to get more accessibility for those who cannot walk from here to the large parking lot where you parked.”
Council’s meeting is set for Thursday.