Lack of parking in Stanley Park's new traffic plan sparks concern
VANCOUVER -- Roads in Stanley Park reopened to vehicles Monday afternoon, but one lane is reserved for cyclists and many parking spaces have disappeared, raising concerns for both visitors and businesses.
After an hours-long meeting last Thursday, the Vancouver Park Board voted in favour of reopening the roads that had closed to vehicles in April due to overcrowding concerns.
However, their plan included setting aside space for cyclists so the seawall could still be reserved for pedestrians, a move two park board commissioners were against, including Tricia Barker.
"I was shocked," she told CTV News after looking at the changes through the park on Monday. "When you look at something on paper, a plan for something, it's quite a bit different than when you actually drive through the park and look at what is being lost in regards to parking."
Most parking spaces in front of the Teahouse in Stanley Park are now a bike lane, there's no vehicle access to the Third Beach parking lot and cars are also not allowed around Brockton Point.
Barker says one of her concerns is access for seniors and people with disabilities.
"They love to come and park at certain places to come and look at the view," she said.
Commissioner John Coupar also voted against the setup, telling CTV News the changes mean 32 per cent of parking spots are now a bike lane. While that may not seem like a drastic reduction, Coupar said the losses are concentrated in key areas.
"Both commissioner Barker and I were both advocating for a return to the pre-COVID transportation layout, which would be two lanes and then cyclists would be back on the seawall," Coupar said.
"I hope that they'll make some adjustments to this plan because I can a lot of frustration the way it's laid out presently."
He expects there will also be frustrations with the entry and exit points. Vehicles cannot access the park off the Lions Gate Bridge, and the only way to exit the park is onto West Georgia with Beach Avenue still closed to traffic.
"I think a lot of people will be maybe surprised by that," Coupar said.
Businesses inside the park are also expressing concern about the future. After being shut down for months due to the pandemic, the Teahouse is set to reopen Thursday at 4 p.m. but general manager Jason Kelly says 90 per cent of the restaurant's clientele come in their vehicles
"There's no question that the new parking regulations and the new traffic regulations in Stanley Park are going to hurt our business," Kelly said. "If there's no parking you have to go around the park again, people are going to turn around and not come back."
Many businesses say they were not consuted about the changes and there's a petition calling for the park setup to go back to pre-COVID days with bikes on the seawall and parking spaces open.
Nancy Stibbard, the owner of the Prospect Point Café has retained a lawyer and is also consulting with other businesses in the park.
Lawyer Wally Oppal told CTV News the Park Board process was "a farce."
Barker told CTV News Monday night that park board staff had committed to engaging with everyone who had reached out about the issue.
For now, the changes are only temporary and the park board has tasked staff with looking at the feasibility of permanent traffic calming measures, which will be voted on at a later date.