Commissioners present motion to study permanently reducing traffic in Stanley Park
VANCOUVER -- A pair of Vancouver Park Board commissioners has brought forward a motion calling on staff to study the long-term feasibility of permanently reducing automobile traffic in Stanley Park.
Vehicle traffic in the park has been heavily restricted since early April in an effort to reduce the number of park visitors and provide those who do use the park more room to physically distance.
“What we’re asking is for our park board staff to look at ways of reducing, not eliminating but reducing, motor vehicle traffic in the park,” said commissioner Stuart Mackinnon. “One of the suggestions that we have made that could be looked at is reducing Park Drive from two lanes to one lane and using the other lane for more active transportation like bicycles, skateboards, that sort of thing.”
The motion is co-sponsored by Mackinnon and commissioner John Irwin and seconded by commissioner Gwen Giesbrecht. It only needs four votes to pass.
The motion goes before the board at Monday night’s meeting – which will be held virtually by video conference.
“I’m very concerned at this particular time when citizens have been denied access to the park. Anybody with mobility issues and many seniors haven’t been able to get into our thousand-acre Stanley Park unless they’re really good walkers or bikers,” said commissioner John Coupar. "I’m concerned about the timing. I’m also concerned that there is very little notice to the public on this motion."
Mackinnon said he wants park board staff to work with the City of Vancouver Persons with Disabilities Advisory Committee to ensure any concerns about access to the park can be addressed in the report he expects staff to create if the motion passes.
"We understand that vehicles are necessary for people with mobility issues,” said Mackinnon. "This is a park that belongs to everyone and we want to be sure that we are doing right by the population."
Stanley Park is home to many businesses that rely on vehicle traffic, or operate on Park Drive, including Stanley Park Horse Drawn Tours.
"It was a bit of surprise. I just heard about it. We would like to have a sincere open dialogue with the park board and all the partners around the park," said owner Gerry O’Neil, who wants to be consulted about any proposed changes because they could have a big impact on his business.
Mackinnon stressed that if the motion passes, the staff report would then go to committee, offering the general public a chance to weigh in before any permanent changes are voted on.