Idea to light Selkirk trestle not dead yet

CRD parks board to review recommendations April 20

Cyclists could hear soon whether Capital Regional District Parks will reverse its decision not to light the Selkirk trestle portion of the Galloping Goose trail.

Details of a possible pilot project aimed at lighting portions of the trestle and/or sections of Cecelia Ravine Park may be discussed by the CRD Parks board at a meeting on April 20.

A security consultant’s safety report recommending against lighting the trestle – citing criminal activity in areas north of the bridge and potential problems with adapting vision from light to dark – had prompted the parks department last month to reject an anonymous donation of more than $100,000 to buy 26 solar LED lights and install them along the span.

But a commitment by the City of Victoria to improve Cecelia Ravine Park contributed to a rethink of the decision. The city agreed to remove underbrush, improve lighting, create an allotment garden and build a basketball court and bike skills facility in the park.

Darren Marr, president of the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition, wrote a letter last week to CRD Parks general manager Lloyd Rushton, refuting many aspects of the consultant’s report, and the decision to reject the donation.

Cyclists feel safer if there are lights on the trail, Marr said. “When you make the trail more inviting to cyclists, this in turn encourages more cyclists to use the trail at night.”

Findings submitted in January by consultant Greg Perkins of Liahona Security Consortium stated that areas north of the trestle, namely  the Gorge Road Underpass and Cecelia Ravine Park, have been taken over with graffiti, camping, alcohol, drug use and the sex trade.

This “No Man’s Land” presents a potential risk to the safety and security of legitimate trail users, Perkins wrote. “Lighting the trestle will cause users to lose their dark adaptive condition. During the recovery time, their sight will be compromised and identifying risks from converging pedestrians or wheeled devices could be an issue.”

Because the trestle is isolated from natural surveillance, illuminating isolated spaces usually results in an increase in nuisance behaviour and crime opportunities, he concluded.

Victoria West Community Association board members supported the original decision. Marr, however, argued the concerns around lighting don’t warrant closing the door to the opportunity.

Victoria Coun. John Luton, the former GVCC executive director, also took issue with the finding. Upwards of 7,000 people use the trail each day, providing plenty of witnesses to potential crime, he argued.

“There are constant dangers of collisions between commuter cyclists and poorly lit pedestrians that crowd the trestle, particularly during peak travel times,” he said.