Improving the public realm at Smith Hill

 Recent improvements to the pathways and public realm at the Smith Hill Reservoir near Summit Park. Source: CRD Water Services

Neighbourhood residents may have noticed the recent improvements to the paths, stairways and public realm around the Smith Hill Reservoir adjacent to Summit Park. If you haven’t been up there recently, I encourage you to take a walk up there and enjoy the site.

The project marks the culmination of two years of advocacy by residents at the Spencer Castle apartment complex, who identified safety hazards along the trail and embankment at the old CRD Water Services asset. (The reservoir itself was built in 1909, but has not been used for water supply purposes for many decades. The CRD retains ownership to allow for future expansion and balancing of the regional water supply system).

Beginning with a letter from residents Eleanor and Bruce Dean, the initiative was spearheaded by retired gerontologist Nancy Gnaedinger, with support from Laura Taylor and other volunteers with the Hillside-Quadra Neighbourhood Action Committee (NAC).

With the support of Victoria City Council, including former mayor Dean Fortin, the CRD Water Commission was convinced to approve an expenditure of $211,000 for the safety upgrades.

Work proceeded over the winter and spring of 2015 and 2016 by CRD Water Services staff, who installed two new stairwells, levelled the pathway, and installed a viewpoint and other improvements around the perimeter of the reservoir. The project came in about $5,000 under budget. The costs were apportioned among ratepayers of the water supply service in the 13 municipalities.

I would like to thank everyone involved in making this project happen, particularly Nancy Gnaedinger, General Manager of CRD Water Services Ted Robbins, and CRD Water Services staff.

The Smith Hill pathways were an eyesore and safety hazard for many years. We can now visit the site and get exercise and fresh air with a sense of pride in our neighbourhood and the “upland” area at Smith Hill and Summit Park.

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