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COVID-19 pedestrian changes up for debate in Oak Bay

Council to consider next steps of temporary sidewalks at Tuesday night meeting
Oak Bay expanded the sidewalk onto Oak Bay Avenue to accommodate physical distancing by walkers. Those changes, tweaked over the year, could change again. (Black Press Media file photo)

Pedestrian traffic changes are on the agenda for Tuesday’s (Oct. 12) council meeting in Oak Bay.

As emergency measures took hold in spring 2020, sidewalks around Greater Victoria were deemed not wide enough for safe distancing deemed necessary to fight the spread of COVID-19.

Under direction of Oak Bay’s Emergency Operations Centre at the time, staff used plastic bollards and tape to delineate temporary sidewalks on Oak Bay Avenue to allow for better, safer physical distancing.

In February of this year, council approved similar spacing on Crescent Road. That temporary sidewalk was scheduled to be removed at the end of 2021 unless council directed otherwise.

A staff report coming before council Tuesday night suggests keeping the extra space on Oak Bay Avenue – with upgrades – and removing the Crescent Road work.

RELATED: Oak Bay expands sidewalks to accommodate social distancing

The temporary infrastructure on Oak Bay Avenue has been damaged in the more than 18 months since it was installed. If it is to remain, staff suggest, it could be upgraded with movable traffic islands or concrete planter boxes. If council opts for that direction, the associated costs could be covered within the existing operational budget for engineering, the report notes.

While the temporary crosswalk on Oak Bay Avenue garnered overwhelmingly positive feedback, the public response was less enthusiastic on Crescent. The district received correspondence requesting it be removed because of a “negative impact on driver behaviours in that neighbourhood.” With typically fewer sidewalk users in the fall, staff recommend the temporary sidewalk be removed, citing the space between parked cars as a safe place for people to step and wait while others pass.

Council meets Tuesday, Oct. 12 at 7 p.m. Meetings are streamed online at where the agenda containing the staff report is also available.

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