Improvement options being considered for the popular attraction include more parking, centre median barriers and a pedestrian overpass. (Karly Blats photo)
Traffic and pedestrian safety improvements for Cathedral Grove continue to move forward following two rounds of online and face-to-face consultations in Port Alberni and Parksville.
B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MoTI) is now analyzing feedback received during the first two rounds of consultations, as well as input from Indigenous communities and local governments, and is moving forward with detailed engineering on solutions to improve safety and capacity for visitors at the park.
During the first two rounds of engagement, the ministry received more than 1,500 responses from park users, area residents and environmental groups on potential options to improve safety and access to Cathedral Grove.
The ministry is exploring improvement options at Cathedral Grove that include adding capacity to the existing parking lots on Highway 4, adding centre median and roadside barriers to prevent unsafe crossing, and constructing vehicle movement along and across the highway.
In addition, the ministry is exploring the option of expanding the trail network to allow visitors to walk safely from their vehicles to the grove, constructing U-turn facilities east and west of Cathedral Grove to enable drivers to safely turn around and constructing a pedestrian overpass near the parking lot over Highway 4.
The next phase of the Cathedral Grove Pedestrian and Traffic Safety Study will include engineering design work to refine the scope and costs. The ministry will present details of the preferred options once engineering work is complete.
One of the most frequent comments during the engagement period was the need to balance pedestrian and vehicle safety with the protection of rare old-growth trees, the ministry stated in a news release.
“No old-growth trees will be removed to accommodate the proposed improvements,” states the release.
The engagement summary, available on the government of B.C.’s website, states each year roughly 500,000 visitors from around the world come to experience the old growth trees and scenery, most arriving by vehicle and parking along Highway 4.
In late 2018, the MoTI initiated a discussion on how to address safety concerns at the existing Cathedral Grove park access while continuing to protect inherent environmental, social, and cultural values of the area.
A complete engagement summary report is available online: https://engage.gov.bc.ca/cathedralgrove.