Sooke PocketNews received an email from a concerned resident about the widening of Grant Rd.
“I noticed on the weekend that the new paved sidewalk being done along Grant Road is being parked on by cars,” writes this SPN reader. “Doesn’t this defeat the objective for which it is being done (ie, as a sidewalk)?”
So we hopped into the car to check things out. Sure enough, the newly-expanded shoulder was host to pedestrians, kids on bikes, and parked cars. The latter forced the former two onto the road to walk around.
We have passed a request for clarification on to the District, and we have not yet heard back (Updated: See additional information below).
Since an easy, official answer was not available, we referred back to our SPN Takeaways from the July 11 meeting, at the motion made — and passed — to accept a proponent for the Grant Rd shoulder-widening RFQ was presented to Council. That had us looking closely at two documents: the original Request For Proposal, and the request for Decision. What we found was interesting.
The RFQ stipulated the project was for road-widening
It would appear that that contract was clearly for shoulder widening, not for sidewalks. Nothing in the actual Request for Proposals suggested “sidewalk.” The specifications indicated that it was to be a road-width expansion, flush with the current road (“The new asphalt surface is to be flush with the existing road surface (+/- 5mm) as specified in MMCD Section 32 12 16”). In fact, the word “sidewalk” does not appear anywhere in the RFQ (outside of the filename, which is “Grant-Sidewalk-RFQ”).
The Request for Decision suggested that project would result in a sidewalk
The idea that sidewalks were being installed might easily arise from language used in the District of Sooke documentation. The Request for Decision submitted to Council on July 11, 2016 for consideration referenced sidewalks twice. First, it appeared in the Executive Summary (“The Grant Rd corridor was identified as one of the high priority areas to make use of the 2016 sidewalks improvements budget”); second, it was mentioned in the concluding Financial Impact section (“The Grant Road Shoulder Widening Project is one of the major sidewalk improvements projects highlighted for 2016″).
From this Request for Decision document presented to Council, a reader might come to an understanding that sidewalks were being installed. According to the RFQ, they are not.
“I fail to see the point of spending $100,000 for sidewalks that cars park on,” concludes the SPN reader. The contract was awarded to Wittich Environmental Services, who bid $95,500 (excluding GST).
There are ways that a wide shoulder can result in improved safety for pedestrians. Mostly, keep the cars off. The solid white line (pictured) legally means that vehicles are not allowed to cross it. So, technically, parking on the other side of a white line is not allowed. But as is witnessed daily on Otter Point Road (at Grant) and on West Coast Road, it’s not a practice generally adhered to in Sooke. Signage might clear that up, as well as enforcement.
The other option, of course, would be to actually install sidewalks. Grant Road is one of the the longest and possibly oldest residential streets in Sooke, and has the potential to become a picturesque drive highlighting Sooke sometime in the future.
Once we hear back from the District of Sooke, we will inform our readers of any misunderstanding SPN may have had on the issue. Until then, we, like many of you, are left scratching our heads, wondering what the future will bring.
Final word: This arrived just after we published the above piece (remains unchanged).
“The attached sketch shows what is planned for the line painting on Grant Road. The final symbols are still being determined, but the idea is to paint a 1.5m shared space for bikes and pedestrian traffic which will not permit parking within it. The leftover .5-.7 meters could be parked on. Essentially, it’s not a sidewalk, but more of paved safe space for people to walk, bike, and scoot. After this work is complete, the DOS will monitor the road to see if parking is an issue or not.”