Danielle Doney loves her daily walks through Victoria Park in Charlottetown.
So, she’s happy to hear that the city is considering extending the season for the paved active transportation lane that extends from Brighton Road to Government House.
“I think this lane is great," Doney, 65, said Thursday when she stopped to talk to The Guardian. “I’d love to see this pathway open until early December."
Earlier this year, city council, in response to concerns around physical distance restrictions, closed the interior lane of Victoria Park Roadway to vehicles on March 31. It’s normally closed between May 1 and Oct. 31.
The intent was to open it earlier to walkers, joggers, rollerbladers, strollers and cyclists and take some of the pressure off the boardwalk, which was seeing increased use at the time.
Coun. Mitchell Tweel, chairman of council’s standing committee on parks, recreation and leisure, wants to see the interior lane closed year-round to vehicles.
Members of the committee met on Wednesday and are proposing a pilot project first. It would see the lane remain closed until April 1, 2021 before ex-examining the situation then.
“We had people utilizing the inside lane this year," Tweel said. “There was also a heavy concentration of seniors. They felt more comfortable using the inside lane than using the boardwalk. I spent the whole summer in the park ... I was taken aback by the amount of seniors using the inside lane."
Doney said she prefers to walk on the paved lane, finding the boardwalk a bit too crowded at times.
“I find the paved lane less busy; it’s easier to avoid people," she said.
However, Doney thinks closing the lane to vehicle traffic year-round is a bit too ambitious. If it were up to her, the lane would be closed to vehicle traffic from early April to early December.
Frank Quinn, manager of the parks, recreation and leisure department, said he has some concerns about closing the lane year-round.
Quinn said winter maintenance has to be considered as does the fact that walkers and vehicles are not separated by a concrete barrier all the way from Brighton Road to Government House. The stretch that runs along the pool and playground is separated only by cones.
Quinn said the fear is someone slipping on ice into vehicle traffic.
Coun. Kevin Ramsay, a member of the committee, isn’t sure he’s sold on the year-round possibility but is willing to let it to through the proper channels first.
“As many people that are saying they’d love to see it closed ... there are just as many people saying they can’t wait until it reopens (to vehicles)," Ramsay said.
The issue still has to be vetted through the public works department and committee. Council will have the ultimate decision.
Coun. Mitchell Tweel, chairman of council’s standing committee on parks, recreation and leisure, is asking the city to use its sidewalk plows to keep the pathways in Orlebar Park clear during the winter.
Frank Quinn, manager of the department, said he’ll have to consult with staff to see if the surface of the trail system in the park is designed to have heavy machinery on it in wet winter conditions.
Sidewalk plows are used to clear pathways in the city’s heritage squares bit they are paved. As for parts of the Confederation Trail in the city that aren’t paved, Quinn said that surface is far durable enough for machinery to go on and clear snow.