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Vancouver park board to vote on West End waterfront plan

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The Vancouver park board will vote Monday on a 30-year plan to reimagine the city’s West End.

The ‘Imagine West End Waterfront’ plan is being proposed for a 95-acre stretch from English Bay to the Burrard Street Bridge.  The concept includes transforming the waterfront to help combat rising sea levels as part of a proposed revitalization project.

“It comes time when we really need to rethink our park spaces, and there’s a real opportunity here,” said Tom Digby, a park board commissioner.

Part of rethinking those spaces includes increasing biodiversity along the waterfront, as well as creating a pair of human-made islands offshore from the base of Chilco Street.

The “habitat islands” are said to be constructed to address wave-induced flooding.

According to the proposal, over the next 80 years sea levels will rise by about one metre. 

Another aspect of the plan proposes is a return to two lanes of car traffic on Beach Avenue – a decision some active transport advocates do not support.

“It’s going to create traffic congestion, danger and noise and air emissions for West End residents,” said Lucy Maloney, an advocate with Love the Lane. “This is a step in the wrong direction.”

Digby said returning Beach Avenue to two lanes would increase car traffic in the area to about five times what it currently is.

Cyclists currently have a separated bike lane on this artery.

Digby said the new plan would include a different version of the two-lane bike lane.

“There’s some suggestion it would create conflict with pedestrians using the bike lane, but there’s a further lane for pedestrians,” he said.

Teri Smith, the executive director of the West End Business Improvement Association called the project an exciting opportunity, but said there needs to be greater community consultation.

“The devil is always in the details,” Smith said. “There’s a lot of concerns around this being a 30-year plan and the funding that isn’t quite in place yet.

Digby told CTV News, he believes the board will defer tonight’s vote due to needing more information regarding plans for the bike lane.

If the board vote approves the report, it will then be presented to city council in May.

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