The Capital Regional District’s (CRD) Board has greenlit a project that would see major improvements for the Galloping Goose and Lochside Trails.
The Galloping Goose and Lochside Trails upgrade will include widening of some sections, improved lighting conditions in some zones, and the Selkirk Trestle that spans the Gorge will see major renovation.
Because this project is an ambitious one, the CRD’s Transportation Committee made a proposal with a few alternatives for how to pay for the initiative and when it should be done.
“We’ve got extremely high volumes of users on [the trails] and that’s growing on a regular basis,” said Saanich Mayor Dean Murdock, who is also Chair of the CRD’s Transportation Committee.
“In order to meet that demand we’re going to have to make some improvements to make it safer and more comfortable for folks to get around on that trail system.”
The Galloping Goose and Lochside Trails will be widened to include a path for people to safely walk out of the way of bicycle traffic — similar to how the stretch of path is from Banfield Park along the Gorge Waterway to Harbour Road.
The project would see the bike trails widened for pedestrian safety from the Selkirk Trestle, along the Trans-Canada Highway to the Spectrum Community School and from the intersection of the Goose and Lochside, out to McKenzie Avenue.
All sections to be widened will also see lighting improvements because along those routes now, the lighting is either low or non-existent.
Completing a major overhaul of the Selkirk Trestle has become another big focus of the project’s scope, which may include scrapping the wooden plank walkway and replacing it with concrete.
To fund the project, the CRD estimates they will need between $40.8 and $53.5 million.
Staff has thus far been applying to every grant for federal or provincial money to be funnelled into the initiative, but has thus far been unsuccessful.
The widening and lighting project is to be put in the 2024-2028 Financial Plan, and while the CRD has some hopes of securing funding down the line, they want to prioritize getting it done as fast as possible.
To achieve this, the CRD is applying for a loan for a maximum of $50 million. According to a CRD staff report, at peak, this project will cost a projected average of $28 per household and the loan should be able to be paid off by 2044.