Council last week approved four additional parking spaces at Mount Douglas Park for individuals with disabilities; including one at the Churchill Drive lot. The lot at Beach Avenue will receive two additional spots; with the lot at Glendenning Road receiving the final additional spot.

Council last week approved four additional parking spaces at Mount Douglas Park for individuals with disabilities; including one at the Churchill Drive lot. The lot at Beach Avenue will receive two additional spots; with the lot at Glendenning Road receiving the final additional spot.

Council improves disabled access to Mount Douglas Park

Four additional spots spread across three lots promise to increase access to popular recreation area

piece of the parking puzzle near Mount Douglas Park is in place after council approved the creation of four parking spots for individuals with mobility restrictions.

The unanimously approved measures added the additional spots across three out of the five parking lots near Mount Douglas Park: two at the Beach Avenue lot, one at the Churchill Drive lot, and one at  Glendenning Road.

The approved measures maintain the two existing disabled parking spaces in the Summit Lot near the top of Mount Douglas and do not add any disabled parking in the parking lot of Blenkinsop Road.

Overall, the measures create an additional four additional parking spots for individuals with mobility restrictions for a total of six.

Coun. Dean Murdock, who chairs Saanich’s parks, trails and recreation advisory committee, praised staff’s work.

“I think it’s a very logical solution reached here…and I’m quite happy to be supportive and I thank staff for the quick effort,” he said.

Staff also recommend to council that Saanich should follow the permitting system that the Victoria Disability Resource Centre has developed and administers.

“It is widely recognized that visitors using parking spaces designated with the blue and white sign with a wheelchair logo must display a valid disability parking permit to use those space,” according to the staff report.

Local reaction to the recommendations sounded largely positive. Graham Shorthill, a spokesperson for the Friends of Mount Douglas Society, and Barbara Tabata, who speaks on traffic issues on behalf of the Gordon Head Residents’ Association, both praised the measures.

This said, Tabata also asked council to improve the trails that connect the parking lots on on Beach Avenue and Glendenning Road.

“These changes should take into the account the weather at different times of the year, so that the paths do not become as muddy and as slippery as they do now,” said Tabata.

The recommendation approved Monday emerged after council had received and discussed a long-awaited report into access to Mount Douglas Park, a regional landmark popular with outdoor enthusiasts, but a persistent source of frustration for some residents who live on a quiet road at the foot of the mountain.

The district commissioned the study in early 2016 to “develop options for improving community access to key trails and facilities” in Mount Douglas Park following complaints from residents of Glendenning Road, a rural road that terminates into what locals call a “bridal trail” leading into the park.

This feature has made Glendenning Road a popular access point for individuals with mobility issues among others, but inspired complaints from residents who fear that vehicles parking illegally on the road would damage the natural environment of the area, block access for emergency vehicles, and diminish their quality of life.

Looking to reconcile competing demands from Glendenning Road residents, individuals with mobility issues and the larger community, the report laid out 25 recommendations, of which council adopted all but the one that would have doubled the existing number of legal parking stalls on Glendenning Road from five to 10 at a total cost of $80,000, with the actual asphalting costing $30,000.

According to the access report, 76 per cent of respondents surveyed during an open house “expressed support for some additional parking” on the road. Concerns about costs, neighbourhood impacts and lacking enforcement capacities, however, discouraged council from adapting that particular recommendation.

The public heard Monday that Saanich staff from both parks and engineering continue to work through the recommendations and council added to their working load by asking it to investigate the costs of adding rails that would prevent motorists from parking on pedestrian sidewalk that runs along Glendenning Road approaching Mount Douglas Park.