Went for a walk last week around Willow Point.
Willow Point is not that great a place to walk around until you get to the shoreline, then it’s spectacular. The neighbourhood is nothing special. Just practical streets and homes where people live. Architecturally, there’s nothing that’s going to win awards. The Cambridge Estates subdivision has nice enough homes and if you still consider Georgia Park as part of Willow Point, then you’ve got some fancy places there, particularly on the upland area as you approach Dogwood Street.
But the rest of the neighbourhood is basically an older part of town with wide streets reminiscent of the seventies and eighties when they built things like roads and housing lots bigger than newer subdivisions do today.
As you walk along the sidewalks of Willow Point, you don’t take your eyes off the ground for too long lest you stumble on a concrete joint that’s heaved and buckled a little. That’s if you’re lucky to have a sidewalk. My street doesn’t until you get to the end where it used to terminate in a cul de sac. A few years ago it was pushed through to connect with a larger street, thus opening our quiet backstreet to traffic in a rush to compensate for the mistake they made turning onto this road. Although a little tired and showing its age, my part of Willow Point is still a nice place to live. I’ve been there for 20 years now and we like our quiet street and our nice neighbours.
The city is seeking input on the walkability of various neighbourhoods and Willow Point has great potential as a pedestrian-scaled neighbourhood. It already has a focal point: the shoreline. People are always walking to the Willow Point commercial district but most are probably going to the Seawalk. One of the great amenities my family has taken advantage of is the Willow Point reef. When our kids were little they loved to explore the reef and the rocky beaches of Willow Point.
But to get there you have to negotiate the big obstacle of Willow Point: the Old Island Highway. It’s noisy, it’s busy, it’s a highway in the middle of an otherwise walkable neighbourhood. Campbell River is a cityscape dominated by the automobile. Our subdivisions are designed to accommodate our commuter lifestyle. It was that way in the sixties and seventies when my home was first built and it’s still that way now. The idea of pedestrian scale communities is gaining traction but the city has yet to implement a plan that puts it into place. Increasing density is the mechanism for walkable neighbourhoods but most of us still want our single-detached housing unit. Until we give that up, we’ll continue to spread out. If you want to give your opinion on Campbell River’s walkability, visit www.surveymonkey.com/s/walkabilitysurvey