Tobius Holmes, in the wheelchair, and Dea Dea Watson, residents of Paddle Road in North Cowichan, feel isolated in their home due to ongoing road work related to the construction of an apartment building on the road. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

Paddle Road residents feel trapped in homes

Ongoing construction work makes road impassable

Tobius Holmes wants to know why he is still a prisoner in his own home.

Holmes, a resident of one of approximately five homes at the end of Paddle Road in North Cowichan, said he and his neighbours continue to be isolated due to ongoing road work related to the construction of a four-storey, 112-unit apartment building on Paddle Road by developer Seymour Pacific Developments.

RELATED STORY: ANOTHER MULTI-UNIT HOUSING DEVELOPMENT PROPOSED FOR NORTH COWICHAN

Holmes, who relies on an electric scooter for transport due to a health condition, said he has tried numerous times to get out of the end of Paddle Road to do simple everyday things, like get to doctor’s appointments and go shopping.

But because the road is in such terrible shape, taxis and Handi-Dart services can’t come to pick him up because the road is a huge quagmire of mud much of the time.

RELATED STORY: CONSTRUCTION CUTTING OFF PADDLE ROAD RESIDENTS

John Dyck, communications manager with BC Transit which operates the Handi-Dart service for people with disabilities, said safety is the top priority for BC Transit and drivers never do anything that is deemed unsafe.

He said BC Transit evaluates accessibility to its clients and makes every effort to provide the service.

“I can’t speak to this particular case, but we always try to find alternative arrangements to find solutions and provide service to our riders,” Dyck said.

Holmes said he has had to cancel numerous appointments and outings because of the muddy road, and he’s sure a lot of people on his road are having similar problems, but nothing is being done to deal with them.

“I would really like to know why it is that a road that has only one way in or out can be blocked in this way, and why was something not done before they started to tear it up?” he asked.

It’s not the first time the issue has been raised.

In early October, Karen Grieder, 75, a neighbour of Holmes who recently had hip surgery, said the road is frequently closed to the residents as construction continues, and the residents, many of whom are elderly and/or disabled, must park almost half a kilometre from their homes and walk across what she considers a dangerous construction site.

She also said she and her neighbours are concerned that emergency vehicles, like ambulances and fire trucks, don’t have access to their homes at these times and they fear for their safety. The Municipality of North Cowichan said in October arrangements have been made to allow emergency vehicles to access the area through an adjacent car dealership.

A statement from the Municipality of North Cowichan said that the installation of three new streetlights as well as underground hydro, telephone, and cable on Paddle Road has taken longer than anticipated.

The statement said that all underground work on the road is expected to be complete by mid-November, curb and sidewalk work is expected to be complete by the end of November, with paving to take place shortly afterward.

Weather permitting, the updated anticipated road completion date is mid-December.

“North Cowichan staff have spoken to many of the Paddle Road residents that are experiencing disruption and we acknowledge the challenges that a project of this nature can cause,” the statement said.

“While this is a private development project, it is being undertaken in accordance with a permit issued by North Cowichan. The municipality will continue to monitor the site daily to ensure the contractor is fulfilling its obligations under the permit.”



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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