Opinions split on Victoria breakwater handrails plan

Greater Victoria Harbour authority to install safety feature on Ogden Point icon

Photo shows what the Ogden Point breakwater will look like with new handrails installed.

If the jury of social media can be trusted as an authority, the community is pretty evenly divided on the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority’s plan to put guard rails on the Ogden Point breakwater.

One thing is crystal clear, however: everyone has an opinion.

“Maybe fill in the water area around the breakwater with soil, and then put cushions out to soften any falls,” wrote David Coney on the Victoria News’ Facebook page, with just a hint of sarcasm. “And we could have chaperones for everyone. And helmets and lights and pre-walk safety information sessions. With maps in case anyone gets lost, and a full medical team on 24-hour standby, of course.”

While many fellow commenters bemoaned the encroachment of the nanny state, a slight majority celebrated last week’s GVHA announcement that it intends to install the new safety feature.

“Great idea!” wrote Tiffany Haarsma. “I fell off when I was about five. Great opportunity for people with disabilities, elderly who may feel a bit unstable and anyone with a disability (to have) more access. Parents with small children won’t need to worry so much … they can just enjoy the walk.”

The diving community also sees the plan as a boon.

“They’re considering putting in a staircase at the end,” said diving instructor Keelan O’Connell at Ogden Point Dive Centre.

Right now, divers lower themselves onto the granite blocks below the breakwater. The stairs will make access easier for divers and tourists alike, he said. “It benefits us.”

The harbour authority plans to begin work on the project early in the new year. The walkway will be closed to the public for eight to 12 weeks during construction.

The goal is to give greater access to people in wheelchairs and scooters, and parents with small children, as well as provide a safer environment for maintenance workers.

“Retaining the unique experience of the breakwater was an important consideration in designing this safety upgrade,” said Curtis Grad, GVHA president and CEO.

“In selecting a handrail design, GVHA was very conscious of preserving the spectacular views while providing the necessary protection for the public and our maintenance team.”

rholmen@vicnews.com

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