Since the word got out about the Vancouver Park Board’s plans to lay down an asphalt bike path through Hadden and Kits Beach Parks, a lot of residents have not been happy.
On Sunday, they pooled their collective concern and anger and held a rally to let the Park Board know their feelings.
“I am sure it looks great on drawings of some landscape architect somewhere, but those of us who use the park understand that it’s not workable, it’s not safe,” says Mark Jacobs from the Kitsilano Beach Park Tennis Club.
Safety is one of the biggest issues, say residents, as the path is slated to run through the middle of the green space. One parent says it is a safety concern for all.
“This bike pathway puts my children in harm’s way,” says resident Maria Coelho. “It is merely feet away, stone throw’s away, from the children’s playground.”
Another issue is money, as the path, about three-and-a-half metres wide, would cost more than two million dollars to build.
“We are 100 per cent in favour of bikers,” says Howard Kelsey, chair of Canada One Athletic Foundation. “Most of our friends are cyclists, half of you guys are cyclists, all we’re saying is use some common sense, we’re spending 2.2 million dollars of taxpayer’s money when we can probably do it for a couple of cans of paint.”
One of the alternative suggestions residents would have made was to mark out a lane, using paint, on the periphery of the park.
However, they were never asked.
“The Park Board didn’t do proper consultation before passing this plan,” says Melissa De Genova, a Vancouver Park Board Commissioner – NPA. “Three days of consultation in the park, we didn’t reach the homeowners, the people who rent in the neighbourhood, and there’s a lot of anger in the community.”
Commissioners attended the rally who voted for and against the bike lane.
One commissioner who did vote in favour admits the plan should have been brought to the table. “We should have had stakeholders more involved, I do agree with that,” says Constance Barnes.
The decision was made to form an advisory committee made up of Kits Point residents and Park Board staff, and while this does not mean anything will change, it will mean residents will have their voices heard.
– With files from Linda Aylesworth