In response to growing concern in the community about the proposed 5 metre-wide, asphalted main path down Gyro Park to the beach, Gary Darrah, Manager of Park Planning and Design at Saanich Parks, responds:
Thanks for sharing the concerns that were raised at your board meeting Wednesday night. The two key issues appear to be the same ones which were raised last May and to which I responded to the past President at that time. From a design perspective the rationale for path widths and materials remains the same. We have continued refining our design work and can advise that there will be considerable attention paid to the treatment of the pathway and promenade in particular to alleviate some of the concerns noted in the two motions. I can reiterate that;
1. Asphalt was chosen as the preferred material for a variety of reasons. It is a very accessibility friendly material. It is smooth, easy to install, durable, drains well and is inexpensive to maintain. In addition, it is fairly elastic and flexible which suits the ground conditions at the park very well. It is true that when asphalt is first laid it is quite dark but quickly fades to a light grey. In addition, there are colour and texture patterns specifically designed for asphalt that we intend to use that will turn the path surface more into a decorative element. This will add character to what would otherwise be a fairly utilitarian piece of infrastructure. Other design materials such as rounded boulders, weathered logs and grass will be used to further soften the appearance of the pathways and other areas of the park to reflect the park’s natural elements.
As for lack of permeability of asphalt the issue isn’t particularly relevant in this case. All water that hits the pathways will drain off into adjacent permeable surfaces such as grass. This isn’t like a road where water is collected in gutters and conveyed to catch basins where it enters into the drain system and ultimately into local waterways. All water that falls on the paths will ultimately percolate into the local groundwater.
2. The proposed 5 metre path that terminates at the promenade is an extension of the existing concrete path that is already close to 4 metres wide. This will be the main multi-use spine that links the park entry off of Sinclair directly to the waterfront. We anticipate it will become a busy corridor with visitors accessing the washroom, congregating at the new group picnic area, using the new accessible beach ramp or getting to the top of the promenade to enjoy the views. Our goal is to accommodate a wide variety of visitors ranging from those confined to a wheelchair, to the growing number of people reliant on personal scooters, to parents pushing strollers and to those who simply want a relaxing stroll beside one or more companions. If built too narrow there will be unnecessary conflicts. Design reviews have considered narrowing the pathway but have concluded that the proposed width is still preferred. Most other secondary pathways will be narrower, ranging from 2.0 – 3.0m.
In a separate email, on the legality of motorized scooters on pathway and other pedestrian thoroughfares, Gary Darrah wrote:
Under the Motor Vehicle Act motorised scooters are unlicensed therefore not permitted on streets and therefore legal to use sidewalks and pathways. I’ve seen them at Gyro and on one recent occasion had to come to the rescue of one poor old gentlemen who had tipped his scooter over on one of our uneven gravel paths (in Gyro). The main path will be able to accommodate them and other users safely at the same time. The scooters will also be able to access the ramp which will get them down to beach level as well.