The tiny community of Crofton (pop. 2,500) is probably best known as a jumping-off spot for the ferry to Vesuvius Bay on Salt Spring Island and, of course, for the massive Catalyst pulp and paper mill, perched on the northern edge of the town. But there is a recent (and much more attractive) feature in Crofton that draws folks from near and far to enjoy a leisurely waterfront stroll – the Crofton Community Seawalk snakes southward along the shoreline for just over a kilometre (about two-thirds of a mile).
The seawalk is testament to just how much a determined little town can accomplish when it puts its mind to something. Originally conceived in the 1980s, construction on the walkway began in 2002 – Crofton’s centennial year – and continued on in three phases until the grand opening in March, 2013. It took a lot of fund-raising, volunteer labour, negotiation with First Nations and collaboration to ante up the $1.8 million to get the job done but the end result is a delightful addition to a small community that, generally, is far from the spotlight when it comes to plans made by tourists and Island residents.
We visited the community and found a well-constructed walkway that was also very well-utilized.. We began our ramble just off the ferry wharf, below the historic one-room schoolhouse that now serves as the community museum, and ambled along in company with families, dog-walkers and photographers.
The first and third phases of the walkway are of sturdy, wide, plank construction made from recycled hydro poles, finished with a substantial railing designed to ensure the safety of users of all ages. The second/middle phase of the project is narrower and consists of a gravel pathway that fronts a popular recreational RV park. Towards the south end of the elevated board walk there is a gazebo with benches where visitors can rest and enjoy the scenery.
Our leisurely stroll concluded at a pretty little beachfront park that offers a safe spot for a swim or a paddle or just a nice location to sit and contemplate the surrounding beauty. The southern terminus of the walkway also links to shoreline and inland hiking trails.
The community of Crofton has done a great job with this project, bringing a different atmosphere to what, for many years, has been thought of by most as little more than a mill town. Apparently there has been some talk of extending the seawalk all the way to Maple Bay to the south – no doubt a long-term collaborative project, but what a wonderful addition that would be!
You can learn more about the Crofton Community Seawalk and all that it took to build it (along with some great photos taken during various construction phases) at :
The beginning of the seawalk is located at the end of Joan Avenue. Follow the signs for the Salt Spring Island ferry and turn right on Queen Street then left on to Joan Avenue. There is a parking lot right at the bottom of the street.
GPS co-ordinates are:
Lat. 48.86470064610297 Long. -123.63949298858642
N 48 51.882 W 123 38.370