Skip to content

Path at City of Powell River waterfront needs revamp, says user

Resident concerned about tripping hazards, increase in fast-moving bicycles on sea walk

Longtime qathet region resident Patricia Martinuk walks the sea walk in Westview every day.

As a trained lawyer who has lived in various cities in BC and across Canada but has since moved back to the area, Martinuk said when it comes to well designed and maintained multiple user walkways, the sea walk could use some small but impactful improvements in order to make it safe and enjoyable for everyone. 

The walkway was damaged by a king tide storm surge in January 2022, which caused some structural damage and was preliminarily fixed by City of Powell River. It was reported by the Peak in May of 2022 that city councillors approved a $400,000 expenditure for the city’s sea walk restoration project. The funds were to be appropriated from the Canada Community-Building Fund and a matched contribution of $400,000 was pledged by Powell River Community Forest to bring the sea walk back to the condition the path was in before it was damaged by high tides and winds. 

Martinuk said the pathway still looks like the fixes were haphazard and seems neglected. In 2022 the city put a sign up indicating an uneven walkway and to use caution; the sign is still there.

"When you see comparable smaller communities on the water like Campbell River or Sechelt, the sea walk here seems like it's suffering from benign neglect," said Martinuk. "I know it's spring and things are growing but when was the last time any weeding was done along the path?"

Martinuk said she did make a public social media post about her complaint regarding overgrown grasses, and since that post went up, the path has had some noticeable weed-whacking maintenance done to it. Some other hazards along the walkway Martinuk has observed are signs of erosion, such as holes and loose rocks near the edge, some jutting rocks that could be a tripping hazard, and stone benches that look unmaintained and are situated precariously on the edge of the sea walk facing the water.

Multiple users

Another incident that triggered Martinuk to speak up about the need for sea walk improvements was when she was out on a morning walk recently, at around 8 am. 

"I did hear a faint bell behind me, so I moved over to the far right, and a bike went by, and as I started to meander back towards the middle of the trail, then three bikes riding abreast came zooming up behind me, causing me to jump aside and barely get out of the way," said  Martinuk. "None of the latter three cyclists rang a bell, or at least not that I heard, and this is not by any means the only time something like this has happened to me." 

She said she has heard from other regular walkers of the pathway that these types of encounters happen frequently.

"I am able to get out of the way, so far, but I do worry about little kids, who can move unpredictably, and older people, who are not quite as agile," said Martinuk.

One of the problems many municipalities now face is the speed of e-bikes on multi-use pathways that were once only used by pedestrians and non-motorized bicycles. 

"As a former lawyer, my real concern is safety, followed by liability," said  Martinuk. "There are numerous cases from incidents on the Stanley Park Seawall, and the City of Vancouver has a divided walkway with abundant signage, of which we have none." 

Martinuk says she is not anti-bike or e-bike and used a bicycle as her primary mode of transportation while in school. But, since it seems like more and more people are using the public amenity, especially in the summer months, she hopes the city improves the signage at the beginning of the walkway to make it clear about sea walk etiquette, and possibly post a speed limit for bikes. 

Martinuk said that could make a big difference to residents and tourists who come to visit.

At the May 2022 city council meeting, councillor Cindy Elliott said the sea walk is incredibly popular in the community.

“The plan is to raise it higher to make it impervious to future rising waters and weather events," said Elliott at the time. “Planning for the future and global warming, now that the oceans are rising, with infrastructure that is important to us, is a good idea and I support the refurbishing."

Join the Peak's email list for the top headlines right in your inbox Monday to Friday.