Does the breakwater need railings?

One of the most thrilling things about Ogden Point Breakwater is its openness–there you are, right in the middle of the Strait of Juan de Fuca! It’s also one of its challenges. I admit I tend to be a nervous person, but when we used to walk out there with our young kids, it did seem exceptionally nerve-wracking. Even now, there have been times–windy days, when waves are washing over the breakwater, when there are wall-to-wall people–when I turn around and opt for a walk along the Dallas Road waterfront instead.

Occasional injuries with dramatic rescues by the Victoria Marine Rescue Society, such as this one witnessed last September, don’t allay anyone’s concerns.

And this past week, the tragic discovery of a body in the water off the Breakwater has reopened debate about whether railings are necessary. Although the cause of death is still not known, in a letter to the Times-Colonist (Dec. 19/09), Redner Jones wrote: “Considering the possible presence of ice or gale winds, people do need to be able to do that popular walk in safety. We should show the cruise-ship tourists we care.”

To that, others reply: “Who in their right mind would go out there in ice or gale winds?” And “They’re dumbing us down again!” And some think letting the cruise ship industry determine what happens to our breakwater is letting the tail wag the dog.

What’s your opinion? Do you think railings should be installed on the breakwater, or is signage (and the occasional padlocking of the entryway) enough?

In the vein of commonsense, here are some things people definitely should NOT do on the breakwater:

  • Go out at night–or even just before dusk. Darkness can fall very quickly in Victoria, making it difficult to see the edge, or any bumps–let’s face it, it’s not a smooth surface.
  • Go out in storms (or on the rare occasions when there’s a tsunami warning). Yes, it’s dramatic and it’s tempting, but commonsense dictates that this is not a wise move. All you have to do to be convinced is see one wave splash against the side and go over the top.
  • Ride bicycles (yes, we’ve seen it).
  • Push large strollers.
  • Walk 3 or 4 abreast and not let others past or make room for oncoming walkers.
  • Bring out 4 or 5 large dogs (yes, we’ve seen it).
  • Walk backwards (yes, we’ve seen it).

Please share your thoughts! Is there anything else people should or shouldn’t do? Are we being too cautious, or not enough?

2 thoughts on “Does the breakwater need railings?

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