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B.C. Supreme Court tosses restaurants’ legal challenge of Stanley Park bike lane

Cyclists ride on a separated bike lane in Stanley Park on Monday, Sept. 7, 2020. Tanya Little

The B.C. Supreme Court has thrown out a challenge of the controversial Stanley Park bike lane brought forward by two businesses operating in the park.

Furguson Point Restaurants, which owns the Teahouse in Stanley Park and Stanley Park Operations, which owns the Stanley Park Pavilion and Prospect Point Bar and Grill launched the suit in the spring, after the Vancouver Park Board voted to dedicate a lane of vehicle traffic to bicycles for a second consecutive summer.

Read more: Controversial separated bike lane returning to Stanley Park by mid-May

The businesses sought to have the board’s decision overturned on the basis that it was unreasonable.

In reasons for judgment posted Wednesday, Justice Sheila Tucker rejected that argument, stating, “A decision need not be flawless in order to be reasonable.”

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Click to play video: 'Stanley Park bike lane rally' Stanley Park bike lane rally
Stanley Park bike lane rally – May 29, 2021

The businesses had argued that the March 10 decision to go ahead with the bike lane was primarily based on “the unsupported assumption that the 2021 bike land would reduce carbon emissions,” and on the results of a “flawed or inadequate” public survey, according to the ruling.

Reduced vehicle access to the park could actually increase emissions due to idling vehicles or people driving further to other parks, while the survey was not representative of the public and didn’t consider possible negative impacts of the lane on families, people with mobility issues or businesses, they argued.

Read more: Opponents rally against Stanley Park separated bike lane

Tucker ruled that neither of those elements were a “central or significant” basis for the park board’s decision.

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Park commissioners, she ruled, engaged in “a vigorous, multi-faceted debate of the kind generally associated with legislative decision-making.”

Click to play video: 'Vancouver Park Board set to debate Stanley Park bike lane' Vancouver Park Board set to debate Stanley Park bike lane
Vancouver Park Board set to debate Stanley Park bike lane – Mar 7, 2021

In doing so, they heard a variety of arguments both for and against the bike lane, including potential adverse effects of the bike lane, and made individual judgment calls based on a variety of factors, Tucker ruled.

Tucker awarded court costs to the park board.

The Stanley Park bike lane, which involves the conversion of one of Stanley Park Drive’s two lanes for bicycle use only, was first implemented in the spring of 2020 in an effort to reduce crowding on the sea wall amid COVID-19.

Read more: Showdown in the works over proposal to reinstate Stanley Park bike lane

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Opponents have decried what they call a lack of consultation on the project and reduced park access for people with mobility challenges, while the park board says it received more than 11,000 responses to its public survey, and that the lane has proven to be a hit with families and less confident cyclists.

The lane is slated to remain in place until about Oct. 31, 2021. However, the board continues to review vehicle access to the park as a part of a longer-term mobility study.

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