Park board votes to bring back Stanley Park bike lane
VANCOUVER -- The temporary bike lane on Park Drive inside Stanley Park is coming back.
Vancouver Park Board commissioners made the controversial decision Wednesday night in a 5-2 vote, despite massive pushback from some people in the city.
The motion was put forward by Green Party Park Board Commissioner Camil Dumont.
“The main driver of this is the realization that we have to decentre the automobile from our way of life and that’s a very difficult thing to do and it comes with lots of challenges,” said Dumont in his presentation to the park board Wednesday night.
Park Drive was initially closed to all vehicles last April to allow for physical distancing on the seawall amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
It was reopened to one lane in June with the other lane dedicated to cyclists.
That temporary lane remained in place until September.
Business owners inside the park say the drop in vehicle traffic and parking spaces was detrimental to their bottom line.
“We all, including myself, invested our lives here. A lot of money, a lot of work, a lot of feedback from customers, a lot of feedback from park board staff,” said Gerry O’Neil, owner of Stanley Park Horse Drawn Carriages.
O’Neil says he’s disappointed the decision was made without getting more feedback from the public.
“It was basically done behind closed doors,” he told CTV News.
“It's a sad day. It’s going to be hugely expensive. Most people don't know, we're talking millions of dollars here.”
There were also concerns about accessibility for seniors, families and people with disabilities.
“I think what we’ve learned with COVID is sometimes, some of our seniors, this might be their last summer. And to do anything that would make it difficult to get into the park that they love, I would never be able to vote for that,” said Commissioner Tricia Barker.
“I'm still devastated, I'm frustrated, and I'm embarrassed. You have to call this discrimination against seniors and people with disabilities.”
Barker says many people have emailed her about being unable to access areas of the park including Brockton Point and Third Beach.
“A lot of the disabled parking spots were removed. Some of those have never returned. We've been horrible when it comes to treating compromised seniors and people with disabilities. We've ignored what they've said about what happened and looks like we're going to do it again.”
Barker is encouraging people upset with the changes to continue writing commissioners about their concerns.
“This conversation is not over. People are upset, they're mad, and they want their park back.”
Cyclists biking on Stanley Park Drive had mixed feelings about the temporary lane.
“I”m actually in favour of it. I think it’s safe for young families,” said Alex McCulloch.
But others reported having bad experiences the last time the temporary lane was up.
“You’re funnelling people of different expertise into a very narrow area particularly coming down the steep hill on the other side of the park there. So unfortunately, I am not in favour of it,” said Kirsty Legge.
The park board has now directed staff to re-install the lane as soon as “operationally reasonable” and collect data about its impact and report back.
The lane will remain in place until approximately Oct. 31.