“THE canal has become a victim of its own success.”
This is the view of local councillor, Raymond Barr, following reports of increasingly large crowds flocking to the recently refurbished Strabane amenity.
Last summer the towpath was transformed as part of a major improvement scheme. Prior to the works it was estimated that as many as 400 people used the facility for walking and cycling every day.
However such is the extent of new crowds being attracted to the facility, the small on-site car park is often overflowing, with many vehicles having to park on the verges of the narrow Park Road and as such, causing traffic jams.
“It’s unreal,” admitted Cllr Raymond Barr. “In these unprecedented times, the demand for walking is huge.
“There has been such a positive response to the new facility -so many people are using it on a regular basis. A lot of walkers are even walking the whole way from Strabane. But the parking has definitely become an issue. I intend on bringing this to the next Health and Communities meeting at council, the week after next, about the canal being a victim of its own success.
“It’s going to need a bigger car park and there is the possibility that council could look at vesting land to make the current car park bigger.”
Cllr Barr says another issue he will raise at the forthcoming meeting is the newly reported problem of speeding along the Park Road.
“It’s a long, straight stretch of road and cars are flying on it,” he said. “People have been asking about speed ramps, either that or a speed limit.
“I have experienced this myself but when you’re walking on the road, depending on what way the wind’s blowing, there can be times that you don’t hear the cars coming.”
When contacted this week in relation to the parking at the canal, a spokesperson for Derry City and Strabane District Council said it has, “not received any complaints in relation to capacity at any of its off-street car parks. On-street car parking is the responsibility of the Department for Infrastructure.”
They added, “Council appeals to people using the car park at the Strabane canal to please be mindful of the current Executive restrictions and only make essential journeys. Be aware of safeguarding others and follow the guidance around social distancing at all times. We would also ask people to try to avoid visiting during busy times if possible if using the area for daily exercise.”