What a disappointing Council meeting on Mon. Nov. 23, 2009!

I had submitted two requests for new trails/walkways in Dean Park neighbourhood on behalf of People for a Pedestrian Friendly Dean Park.

The mayor and councillors rejected both of them.

The first was a no-brainer.  A narrow strip of land between Richland Place and Portlier Place (both dead end streets) was designated years ago to be linked by a walkway. The neighbours acknowledge they have always known that was the plan, but because the streets were developed at different times, the walkway was never put in. And now the neighbours are dead set against it.

It would be easy to write these people off as NIMBYs, but I don’t wish to create hard feelings within the neighbourhood.  As well, residents on these streets (they showed up en masse to speak against a walkway) seem to sincerely believe that a walkway will destroy their privacy, lower their property values and increase their risk of crime and vandalism.

That is not the experience of people who live on other dead end streets where there are walkways connecting to another street.  In fact, people looking to buy homes want walkways and bike lanes…anything that helps them get around without a car. A walking path INCREASES the value of a property.

And crime?  Dean Park is one of the safest neighbourhoods in one of the safest municipalities in Canada! A person in Dean Park has a better chance of getting hit by a speeding car than having their home broken into (whether you live on a walkway or not).

I’m most disappointed in Council (not my neighbours). Council could easily have voted ‘yes’ to this walkway since it is already  ’on the books’ and neighbours anticipated it would one day happen. This would have been an easy decision without  political consequences.

The second proposal for a trail that councillors and mayor rejected was along a CRD water right-of-way that runs between the new school on Forest Park Drive, across the top of the  Centre for Plant Health, across Dean Park Road and through numerous private properties to the border with Central Saanich.

At the meeting I asked Council to disregard the portion of the proposed trail that crosses private property – this would obviously not be acceptable. Instead, I asked them to consider the portion that runs from the school to Dean Park Road and I noted why this would make a wonderful addition to our neighbourhood: it would allow kids to walk from Dean Park Road all the way to school on the  safety of a trail and it would give everyone at the south side of Dean Park a safe, pleasant way to walk to Panorama Rec Centre without having to walk down Dean Park Road or Barrett Drive, both of which are unsafe due to the lack of sidewalks and speeding vehicles.

In order for this to happen the Centre for Plant Health would need to give up a narrow strip of land across the very top of their property. A staff report (which recommended Council vote against the trail) said it might cost $25,000 for a fence to separate the path from the Centre for Plant Health. (Note that in August staff recommended Council spend $30,000 to create a few more parking spaces on Forest Park Drive for people dropping kids off at the new school…spaces that would be used for half an hour a day at most.)

One councillor also noted that the proposed path would run past three private residences and the owners probably wouldn’t want it.

So without considering the bigger good and the bigger picture, my request was turned down. Councillors were not even willing to explore the idea further with the Centre for Plant Health. Councillor Cairine Green dismissed a trail here as not worth pursuing since there’s already a sidewalk on East Saanich Road.

Yes, there is, but first you have to get there ! And as we all know, walking down Dean Park Road, Barrett Drive or Forest Park Drive is not a pleasant or safe experience, certainly not for young kids on their own.

I’m not sure where to go from here, since this Council doesn’t seem interested in helping us.

Ideas? Please add your comments.

Suzanne

In talking to engineering staff recently at North Saanich District, I was informed that a right-of-way  has been ‘discovered’ in our neighbourhood that would allow for pedestrian use.  This  right-of-way is between the end of Richland Place (off Dean Park Road) and Portlier Place (off Sansum Road). I am sending the following letter to municipal council asking them to proceed to open this right-of-way immediately for pedestrian use.

May 18, 2009

 Dear Mayor and Councillors,

I would like to bring to your attention a right-of-way in the Dean Park neighbhourhood that your staff have recently discovered is designated for pedestrian use, and request that you proceed immediately to make it a trail.

 According to engineering staff, a right-of-way for pedestrian use goes from  the end of Richland Place to the end of Porlier Place.  Creating a path between these two dead-end streets would create a sizeable loop for people to walk (incorporating parts of Sansum Place and Dean Park Road).

 Given the lack of walking trails in Dean Park neighbhourhood, and the numerous dead- end streets and cul de sacs,  this will be a welcome addition for pedestrians looking for new routes.

 I urge you to create a trail along this right-of-way as soon as possible. It need not be paved or covered with wood chips. A simple hard dirt path is all that is needed.

 Thank you in advance for dealing with this expeditiously.

 Suzanne Morphet

Coordinator,

People for A Pedestrian Friendly Dean Park

Dear Mayor and Councillors,

 I’m writing to you on behalf of People for a Pedestrian Friendly Dean Park.

As you may recall from the questionnaire I sent to you before the municipal election, we are a group of residents who want our neighbhourhood to be safer and more inviting for walking. 

We were very pleased with the responses we received and are looking forward to working with you to achieve our goals.

There are two items of some urgency. The first is planning for the new bicycle lanes on East Saanich Road.  If the road is widened to accommodate the new lanes, motorists will be tempted to travel even faster.  We know that wide roads encourage speeding. The current speed limit on East Saanich Road through the Dean Park neighbhourhood is 40 km/hour, but few drivers obey this limit. Before constructing the new bike lanes, we need to consider how to best accommodate cyclists without encouraging motorists to speed, which discourages people from walking, even on a sidewalk.

That brings me to my next point: with construction of the bike lanes imminent, now is the time to construct a sidewalk on the east side of East Saanich Road, along the 40 km/hour corridor and preferably as far as McTavish Road. With bus stops on both sides of East Saanich Road, it only makes sense to have sidewalks on both sides and sufficient crosswalks for people to cross safely.

I should also note that many people from Dean Park would love to be able to safely walk to Saanichton for exercise and to do errands.  This is now out of the question because East Saanich Road is too narrow and traffic moves too quickly.  With the new bike lanes, people will be tempted to use them for walking.  This could be dangerous for both cyclists and pedestrians.  Again, now is the time to accommodate pedestrians as well as cyclists.

 Clearly, the construction of bicycle lanes introduces other issues and opportunities, which need to be addressed. We wish to be included in the discussion and planning since the outcome will have a long-lasting impact on our neighbhourhood.

The second item of urgency is already on your radar – the possible sale of Dunsmuir Lodge.  Many residents of Dean Park walk and run on the trails through the forested land owned by the university. Since our neighbhourhood has no off-road trails, it is imperative that we not lose the Dunsmuir property trails.

One final note: while researching strategies for making communities pedestrian friendly, I learned of a seminar being presented next month that is on this very topic. Cullbridge Marketing and Communications has organized a ‘webinar’ (a seminar over the ‘Web’) and Transport Canada is paying the cost for up to 85 Canadian ‘connections’.

This webinar promises to provide highly useful information and assistance (see a brief description below). I urge you and staff to participate. If no spaces are available, I have already registered and would be happy to have my ‘connection’ made at North Saanich municipal hall. The webinar is Tues Feb 3 from 9 AM to 10 AM Pacific time.

Please let me know if you are interested in the webinar and how you would like to proceed to help us achieve our overall goals for Dean Park.

Yours truly,

Suzanne Morphet

Coordinator, People for a Pedestrian Friendly Dean Park

 

 Below is copied from http://webinars.cullbridge.com/course/category.php?id=3

 

Upcoming Case Study Webinar: The Walkability Roadshow

 

The “Walkability Roadshow” is both a model for how to engage communities of all sizes in promoting walking, and a program available to Canadian communities interested in doing so. It involves a questionnaire completed my municipal staff in related departments, a needs analysis workshop, subsequent homework, site visits by international experts, the development of local pedestrian action plans, and the securing of commitments from key decision makers.

Tuesday February 3 2009, 12 noon to 1:00 PM. Speaker: Jacky Kennedy, Director, Walking Programs, Green Communities Canada

Transport Canada’s Urban Transportation Showcase Program is paying for up to 85 Canadian connections to participate at no cost, and an additional 10 connections will be available for non-Canadian participants at $50 per connection. Any number of people can participate at the same location using the same computer and telephone connection.

All but one of the candidates for North Saanich Council have now responded to our questionnaire on making Dean Park a safer and more enjoyable neighbourhood for walking.

(Bob Williamson is the only candidate to NOT reply at all. Peter Chandler chose not to answer specific questions but to give a general answer instead.)

Overall, the response has been gratifying: most candidates (10 out of 14) say they support sidewalks, speed bumps and narrowing of some roads in Dean Park to discourage speeding and increase pedestrian safety. 

Some candidates have suggested other ways to discourage speeding, increase safety and make our neighbhourhood more inviting to walk in. All who replied agree that Council has a responsibility to work with residents on this issue.  

Before you vote on November 15th, please carefully consider each candidate’s response (or lack thereof). Answers are posted under individual candidates’ names on the left hand side of this website.