By Roszan Holmen, Victoria News, January 2, 2012
It’s just a matter of when, not if, for the re-opening of the Chandler-Gonzales pathway in Fairfield.
Despite opposition from at least one neighbour to the proposed path, city council agreed the publicly-owned pathway should be open to the public.
Coun. Geoff Young said he becomes indignant at the misuse of public land.
“There is no more profound misuse than simply closing it off and not allowing the public to go on it,” he said.
“I am happy to consult with the neighbours but not about whether or not this should be opened but about questions of barriers and landscaping, perhaps lighting and things like that.”
In 1976, the city closed the pathway due to nuisances and safety concerns on the 250-metre path. Since then, many adjacent property owners have co-opted the land with fencing and vegetation.
Neighbour Pat McCrea calls the initiative “the planning department’s … favourite pet project” and states in a letter that only 10 students attending Margaret Jenkins elementary school will benefit from the short cut.
The argument, however, ignores a petition signed by 650 people urging council to re-open the path.
Coun. Lisa Helps called the outpouring of public support a powerful rationale for supporting the project.
At last week’s meeting, city council instructed staff to consult neighbours and gather more information about other greenway projects on the city’s wait list.
Approving this project must de done in context of other projects because it will bump the others by a year, said Mayor Dean Fortin.
An earlier consultant’s report concluded that path would need to be realigned, lit and widened, however staff say many of the interventions will not be necessary. The new capital cost estimate runs at approximately $250,000.
It will be challenging to build because the path is too narrow for vehicle access, said David Speed, assistant director of parks. “It may seem simple, but it’s going to be expensive.”
Coun. Ben Isitt, however, argued it can be done for cheaper.
Forty residents and unionized city workers represented by CUPE Local 50 have volunteered to clear the pathway, he said.