As Councillors are probably aware, I spent the better part of the summer on a sidewalk study tour. I invited Saanich residents to contact me to point out areas of the municipality where the safety and quality of the walking environment could be improved by a proper sidewalk. The response to my request was extraordinary. I received over 200 invitations to visit neighbourhoods in every part of Saanich to see the condition of the walking environment.
The intent of my tour was to gather evidence and get a firsthand look at the quality of our walking environment and the shortcomings of our pedestrian infrastructure as reflected through the eyes of our citizens. The evidence is clear. There is some very good work underway to improve pedestrian infrastructure with new sidewalks, as approved by Council during our annual budget deliberations. However, the demand is considerable and we have much work to do to address it systematically.
What can Council do to respond to the demand? We have a valuable technical tool in the Pedestrian Priority Implementation Plan (PPIP), which is used to evaluate the need for sidewalks based on safety criteria. However, PPIP is only part of the response. Just as we have a clear approach to upgrade our subterranean infrastructure, Council needs a strategy that outlines its approach to upgrade or install pedestrian infrastructure with a manageable, prioritized timeline.
A sidewalk strategy should provide an overview of the inventory of all areas identified for pedestrian infrastructure improvements, the evaluation approach, and options to assist Council in responding to the demand with a manageable, prioritized timeline.
That Council ask staff to develop a Sidewalk Strategy to manage the demand for sidewalks.