Cycling advocates criticize Vancouver’s curbing of West End revitalization plan

Click to play video: 'Cycling advocates criticize Vancouver’s curbing of West End revitalization plan'
Cycling advocates criticize Vancouver’s curbing of West End revitalization plan
Earlier this week, Vancouver shot down a multimillion dollar plan to remake the West End waterfront. Lost in the shuffle, a small but significant step that will happen, opening Beach Avenue to two-way traffic. Angela Jung reports – May 12, 2024

Cycling advocates are criticizing Vancouver city council’s decision to kibosh a 30-year plan to revitalize the West End waterfront and remove bike lanes.

Council voted down the ambitious West End Waterfront Plan on Wednesday, after the Vancouver Park Board approved it in April. The city’s ABC majority cited the price tag as a major reason.

Love the Lane is an organization that was formed in response to the decision to remove the bike lane along Stanley Park Drive.

“My first reaction was absolute disbelief at the council’s decision,” organization spokesperson Lucy Maloney said. “I think the essence of it is that they’ve kept the absolute worst part of the plan, and they’ve thrown out all the good parts.”

Those bad parts, according to Maloney, include returning to two-way vehicle traffic along the road. She says the plan will increase emissions, traffic noise and congestion, and potential for collisions.

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“Don’t mess with what’s working,” she said. “This is the most popular bike lane in Vancouver and one of the most used bike lanes in the whole of North America.”

Click to play video: 'Vancouver council under fire for rejecting West End waterfont plan'
Vancouver council under fire for rejecting West End waterfont plan

Thousands of people pedal through the area every day, according to city data.

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The bike lane was created during the pandemic, and Coun. Sarah Kirby-Yung has said it was always meant to be temporary.

“It is a bit of a fantasyland plan,” Kirby-Yung said. “I just think it was really disconnected from dealing with the current needs and then building on those over time.”

In addition to reopening the road to two-way traffic, part of the plan that was approved will replace the beachside sidewalk with a new bike path and the installation of a new pedestrian path through the park.

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“That’s what we want to see here, as well as expand the pedestrian foot paths because it’s very busy area, as well as reconfigure the traffic so we don’t have cars idling, so this was about balance,” Kirby-Yung said.

Click to play video: 'West End waterfront plan approved by Vancouver Park Board'
West End waterfront plan approved by Vancouver Park Board

West End waterfront advisory group member Rick Hurlbut called the move “short-sighted.”

“(Council) didn’t want to spend $300 million over 30 years. Don’t ask me why they think that’s a big number over three decades,” he said, adding he believes the current strain between council and the park board may have also played a role in the outcome.

Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim announced last year he plans to disband the elected park board and bring its duties back under the authority of council.

“This is adapting to the new realities on higher density population in the West End, it has to be done,” Hurlbut said.

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“And if it’s not done now, it’s going to be done in the future. At two or three times the cost.”

However, Hurlbut feels confident this isn’t the end of the road for the plan entirely.

“I think that we’ll generally see parts of this introduced over time in smaller portions and that the work will end up getting done whether the current administration thinks that they’ve put the brakes on or not.”

The project was sent back to city staff with a direction for them to focus on foreshore protection.

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