Slick shortcut makes muddy mess for walkers

Bowker Walkway closed for improvements; shortcut a soggy mess

Ron Smyth at the muddy temporary pathway serving walkers during work on Bowker Creek.

Thick, slick mud makes an impromptu path adjacent to Bowker Creek Walkway dangerous says one regular walker and Oak Bay resident.

“It’s just mud, it wasn’t designed as a pathway,” said Ron Smyth.

With the regular path closed on the other side of the waterway during the Bowker Creek Initiative work, pedestrian traffic is rerouted to Armstrong Road. However, a gate opening onto the high school track is a popular route, one Smyth prefers.

“If you’re walking with little kids, why walk the road if there’s a proper trail,” said Smyth, who takes his grandchildren through the area between Hampshire Road and the high school track several times a week.

“We slip slide our way through the mud. It’s pretty hazardous,” Smyth said. “They’ll probably have a grand opening (of the Bowker trail) … but meanwhile those of us with kids and others who access the rec centre are forced to walk through the mud that gets worse and worse every day as more people traverse it.”

He hopes to see some wood chips put down, similar to what’s used on Henderson trails. The municipality dropped gravel in a few more dangerous sections to offer traction for pedestrians and did a follow up walk-through last week.

“We also anticipated that the new section was going to be open by now and it’s not,” said Chris Hyde-Lay, manager of parks services for Oak Bay. “We are going to try to make it less muddy. We may go in with some wood chips or something like that if the new trail is delayed for a period of time.”

The restoration project for the portion of Bowker behind Oak Bay High includes a winding creek that mimics a more natural water course, native plantings, an accessible pathway, a viewing area and an outdoor classroom.

The pathway construction was delayed by heavy rains late last year.

Farmer Construction expects to pave in mid-February unless they get a break in the weather.