Sooke is taking its first steps to fix the Bluffs staircase, one of the district’s waterfront viewpoints that’s been closed since August.
District council approved a motion to apply for a provincial grant that councillors hope will cover 100 per cent of the cost.
“We had to shut this [Bluffs staircase] down because it basically rotted out,” Mayor Maja Tait said.
“Over the years, many staircases to our waterfront have failed, and we’ve needed to close them. We gave the go-ahead [for the grant application] because this is a shovel-ready project.”
The district’s application was initially tabled by council as an entire waterfront facelift would see improvements to the Cains Park staircase, access to a canoe/kayak ramp along Kaltasin Road, and a path to reduce the slope at Murray Road towards the Rotary Pier, to name a few.
But after review, district staff decided that focusing on one project would be the best approach to get the application approved. The Bluffs project is estimated to cost $150,000, including parking spots or way-faring signs for visitors.
Currently, there is only a parking lot that is for strata members in the area. The project proposes a parking lot for the public on the south side of Deerlepe Road, east of an existing roundabout, an addition that Coun. Al Beddows agrees.
“It would be a waste of money to spend on fixing the staircase when residents wouldn’t be able to park anywhere near it,” said Beddows.
The main challenge identified in the Parks and Trails Master Plan was that there wasn’t enough access to Sooke’s waterfront due to private land occupying most of the shoreline.
Upon staff recommendation, the goal has been to retain Sooke’s existing waterfront access points, improve those points and provide more access points in the future, estimated to cost $608,000.
Some access points will have additional bear-resistant garbage bins, dog waste-bag dispensers and seasonal porto-potties installed.
Looking ahead, district staff hope to improve the accessibility of Sooke Potholes, which is estimated to cost $400,000 with substantial contingencies due to the nature of the work.
Until then, improvements to Cooper’s Cove at Sooke Road, adding lines to the parking lot for Ella Road trail and improving Seabroom Road will be on the back burner until Bluffs Park, and the Potholes can be improved first.
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