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FORSYTH: Sidewalk solutions not always a simple answer

COLUMN: PQB residents weigh in on pros and cons of sidewalks
A sidewalk abruptly ends on Craig Street in Parksville. (Contributed photo)

Last month I asked PQB News readers to send me their opinions on sidewalks — and they have delivered with some thoughtful responses, including a couple that surprised me.

Quite a few people shared my line of thinking that our area could use some more sidewalks. I also heard some opposing views — good, nuanced opinions on why sidewalks maybe aren’t the best thing since sliced bread.

Let’s start with a few pro-sidewalk takes.

“If ever there was a place just waiting for a glorious sidewalk to happen, that would be beyond exulted and appreciated, it’s at the location of 3156 West Island Highway,” said Judith in Qualicum Beach.

When Judith bought a home 29 years ago, she noticed an area along Island Highway West (close to the Shady Rest) seemed to be hazardous for pedestrians.

“I felt sure it would follow with the completion of construction. Both sides of the street need them, of course,” she said.

Gail in Qualicum Beach pointed out a few sidewalk blind spots such as Beach Street heading downtown, as well as sidewalk-deprived Crescent Road.

Geraldine, an avid walker and cyclist in French Creek, says she would like to see a lot more sidewalks in both Qualicum Beach and Parksville.

Stephanie in Parksville, who lives with arthritis, commented that she wishes sidewalks were made from something more forgiving than concrete.

“I prefer to walk on grass, chip trails or asphalt roads, as all are softer and less jarring on the joints,” she said.

New Parksville resident Craig thinks sidewalks solve little when it comes to public safety, since people are still killed being struck by motor vehicles on the sidewalk.

He added that sidewalks are expensive and take up funds from other needed programs. Plus, without sidewalks the streets are wider and allow more room for all modes of traffic.

“When we moved here from the city, it was refreshing to see NO SIDEWALKS,” Craig added.

Longtime PQB resident Wendy told me that not so long ago, both Parksville and Qualicum Beach were sleepy little towns and there was no need for sidewalks because it was safe to walk on the side of the road. She lives on a quiet street where she feels they are still not necessary.

READ MORE: FORSYTH: Let’s hear it for sidewalks (and we could use some more)

“I have to say that I am not eager to have sidewalks installed on my street,” she said. “There isn’t much traffic, and I feel safe enough walking along the side of the road.”

Wendy added that the addition of sidewalks on her street would mean a new responsibility for many seniors to either shovel them, or pay someone to shovel them.

Rhoda pointed out that Forsyth Avenue in Parksville could use a sidewalk between Finholm and Pym.

Maria in Qualicum Beach said for years she has hoped to see sidewalk built along Eaglecrest Drive between the highway and Seacrest Place, since it sees a good amount of traffic including transit, school buses and cyclists.

Steve wrote in about the lack of a sidewalk on either side of Garden Road, between Primrose and Memorial. He added this is a bus route and every day he sees pedestrians walking along either side of the road.

“It becomes a little bit tight when a bus goes by; or, when there is a car passing the bus and you are walking down the side,” he added.

I can certainly relate to that type of experience — keeping an eye out as I walk along a shoulder and the cars pass by.

Or on the other hand, driving by and wishing there was a sidewalk to put a bit more separation between my vehicle and people walking where a sidewalk could be.

Thanks to everyone who wrote me and included their sidewalk opinions, I wish I could have included them all.

PQB News reporter Kevin Forsyth can be reached at 250-905-0028 or by email at

Kevin Forsyth

About the Author: Kevin Forsyth

As a lifelong learner, I enjoy experiencing new cultures and traveled around the world before making Vancouver Island my home.
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