Protesters voice frustration with Stanley Park lane closures
A group of people gathered in Stanley Park Saturday to protest a study underway that has seen a lane of Stanley Park Drive dedicated to cyclists, leaving just one for motor vehicles. (CTV)
VANCOUVER -- A group of people gathered in Stanley Park Saturday to protest a study underway that has seen a lane of Stanley Park Drive dedicated to cyclists, leaving just one for motor vehicles.
In order to accommodate the trial, a number of parking lots in the park have been temporarily closed.
In some lots that remain open, some accessible spaces have been roped off, although the Park Board says it has also added some new temporary ones.
Shauna Hanvey uses a wheelchair and says the changes have made it very difficult for her to enjoy the park.
“Other than a drive through the park, I haven’t been able to be in the park all summer," Hanvey said. "I’ve spent my life coming to this park and spent a lot of time in this park and I feel like it’s being taken away from us."
After a three-month ban on cars at the start of the pandemic to allow more room for people to physically distance on the seawall, Vancouver Park Board commissioners voted 5-2 in June to explore ways to permanently reduce vehicle traffic in the park.
That’s when barricades and pylons went up to separate cars and bicycles on Stanley Park Drive.
“Obviously, who does it affect negatively? It affects the elderly, it affects the handicapped, it affects people with families, it affects people who live in the Lower Mainland not close to the park who need cars to get here,” said Phillip Rankin, a lawyer bringing a human rights complaint over the lack of access for seniors and people with disabilities.
Saturday’s rally had a political tone and featured John Coupar and Tricia Barker, the two NPA park board commissioners who voted against going ahead with the study.
Coupar has concerns the data gathered during the pandemic won’t accurately reflect the number of motor vehicles and bicycles in the park during a normal summer.
“I’m concerned that this data will be skewed toward the present situation,” he said. “We’re seeing more cyclists because we’re in a pandemic.”
A survey on the City of Vancouver website encourages park users to share their feedback about the trial.
“I think some discussion about it and some input from the public on what would work for us would be an excellent start,” said Hanvey.
The park board has said no permanent changes will be made without “extensive engagement with stakeholders and the public.”