Foul Bay Hill looking northbound
After much debate and staff time, there are some new bike lanes coming to Oak Bay. Likely early in the new year new paint will hit the road on Cedar Hill X. Rd, closing the gap between the Saanich border and the UVic entrance at Henderson. Like most politics, this win comes with a compromise: the northern side will only be a bike lane from 7am to 7pm, Monday to Frieday, just like the Henderson Rd. lanes. (The southern side is a full time bike lane).
Slightly longer in the coming is anything on Foul Bay just before Lansdowne. Engineering staff didn’t feel that a bike box is warranted, nor do they feel it was safe, a discussion that slowed the whole process down. Engineering has yet to return a detailed design to council, a necessary first step to anything else being done.
The drive for all this work came most recently from Councillor Jensen, who started the ball rolling in the early summer, before council ultimately choose to hand the matter to the Community Initiatives Committee (of which I am a member). The CIC ultimately produced a recommendation for both bike lanes on Cedar Hill X. Rd. and the Foul Bay at Lansdowne, but the second part has been longer in coming.
Also coming in the new year is an RFP for an Active Transportation plan for the muncipality. A $20,000 project, the plan would be a first for Oak Bay, although the Oak Bay Climate Change Task Force final report (374) (PDF, pg 6-7) did make some specific recommendations as to improvements in 2009. All in all, things are moving, something I don’t think I could have honestly said or believed this time last year.
Last night’s Active Transportation Forum was a great success, bringing together a lot of different groups, from Oak Bay, the CRD, and the school district. Despite the cold weather, there were over 50 people in attendance, up from last years. With the theme of “Connecting Locally, Connecting Regionally”, with a major goal to just get the major players in a room together. Too often these plans are considered in isolation, even within an organization (see the CRD’s various transportation plans: Regional Corridors and the Pedestrian and Cycling Master Plan – not to mention the old TravelChoices). I wonder where else the head of the CRD’s PCMP, Sue Hallett; the chief architect of the new Oak Bay High, Rod Windjack; and the chair of Oak Bay’s Community Initiatives Committee, Councillor Herbert; were all in the same room listening to each other?
Success for the event can be credited to Gerald Smeltzer, one of my fellow directors at the Community Association of Oak Bay, and the various people, including myself, who he pulled in to help. In the next day or two I expect Gerald to post a great deal of information on the forum on the Community Association’s page, so stay tuned for that.
Just a reminder to think of us poor pedestrians and keep the sidewalks clear. Oak Bay bylaws require the adjacent property owner to shovel the sidewalk and keep it clear. Quoting 43.6 of the Streets & Traffic bylaw (PDF):
being the occupier, and in case there is no occupier, being the owner or lessee, of land and premises abutting any sidewalk shall permit any accumulation of snow, ice, dirt, litter or rubbish to be or remain upon such sidewalk;
Have fun in the snow.
…this image is pretty funny. Produced by GOOD Magazine, it moves countries’ populations around to so that size and population followed the same progression. Take a look:
A re-ordered world. Photo credit GOOD Magazine
Despite some people’s predictions to the contrary, Victorians voted yesterday to allow the city to borrow the money to replace the Johnson St. Bridge. It was a pretty decisive win too, 60 to 40. The interesting question is why?
Why didn’t the No side (johnsonstreetbridge.org/) win? After all, they collected all those signatures. I suspect because those that signed the petition break down into three major groups
- Those that actually wanted to save the old Blue Bridge
- Those that wanted a vote on the issue
- Those that were offended at the amount of money being spent
Note that only group 1 is actually a lock for a No vote. The 2nd and 3rd groups can be convinced to vote yes, which given that 9872 people signed the petition and only 6,522 voted No, may have just been what happened. After all, take a peak at one of the johnsonstbridge.org posters:
Johnsonstbridge.org Poster. Image by johnstonstbridge.org
That poster will get all three groups to sign the petition, without revealing that the people behind the petition actually want to save the bridge. So all in all, a slightly surprising result, but from my perspective, a good one. If you want to get another perspective, Bernard von Shulman, a No voter, has run followup pieces at his Victoria Vision blog: 2010 Election and Wow I was wrong… Both are good reads. Now let’s see what the latest controversy regarding the bridge the johnsonstbridge.org people can stir up…
A former potential site of sewage treatment, now under study. Image courtesy CRD Natural Areas Atlas
UVic Sustainability has finally decided to develop a plan for the Cedar Hill X Rd. lands. Yes, those same lands that the CRD considered for a Saanich East/Oak Bay sewage treatment/pumping plant earlier this year. (For reference, it is outlined in yellow to the right). Like most areas, there are a lot of interested parties, including dog walkers, UVic Facilities, UVic Forest Biology, and the local community. Some of those users don’t see eye to eye, so balancing those conflicted needs should be interesting.
This isn’t the first time a plan has come up for the site, although it seems that everybody but UVic has been involved. Proposed for the site in 2009 was a “UVic School of Agriculture” by the Campus Urban Agricultural Collective (Facebook page). At the time the draft plan under discussion was but an apple in the eye of then-UVic (now CRD) Sustainability Coordinator Sarah Webb, as she mentioned the Marlet in a story about the CUAC. Earlier this year the Food Not Lawns Collective co-opted that idea and dumped it into their manifesto (as they dug up the lawn in front of the library, possibly killing all their credibility in the process).
Disappointingly, the plan doesn’t talk at all about the road immediately adjacent, which includes parking in the area, or of better pedestrian access. Currently Cedar Hill X Rd. has a number of problems: too wide, lack of sidewalks on the north side, lack of bike lanes, and its use as overflow parking from UVic, the Rec Centre, both golf courses, and Emmanuel Baptist Church. Yes, the road is under the control of Oak Bay, but that shouldn’t stop UVic from making a stronger statement. And Oak Bay should listen. After all, they are the adjacent land owner and we go to great pains to query other adjacent land owners when we put in improvements like bike lanes. Observe the recent bike lane work on the other side of Cedar Hill X Rd.
However, I am cautiously optimistic. The drop dead date for getting your comments into UVic is November 26th. You can read more at the UVic Sustainability Planning site.