VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Opponents of a sidewalk expansion project on Point Grey Road say they won’t stop their protest, even as construction gets underway.
A group of Vancouver residents, both from within and outside the neighbourhood, gathered at the corner of Blenheim Street and Point Grey Road in Kitsilano to bring attention to what say is city council’s lack of public consultation on the project.
“It seems as though this city has a preoccupation with Point Grey Road, wanting to pump millions into these nine blocks,” says Mary Lavin, who lives on the stretch of road.
“Consider how many blocks in this city don’t have any sidewalks at all. There just doesn’t appear to be any rhyme or reason to what this council is doing.”
Residents of what is known as the Golden Mile – because of the expensive properties – are also concerned about the city pulling out old trees and hedges only to replace them with grass.
David Fine doesn’t live in the neighbourhood, but questions council’s spending priorities and says this is not simply NIMBYism on the part of those who live on the street.
“As a resident of Vancouver, I have concerns about it; where money is going and why funds are being found to spend millions on Canada’s richest postal code,” he says.
Phase two of the Seaside Greenway project, which was approved by council in May, will expand the sidewalks from 1.8 metres to three metres and includes the addition of fountains and benches along green spaces, at a price tag of $6.2 million.
Phase one cost $6 million and limited the street to local traffic two years ago.
The beautification is happening at the same time as upgrades to hydro poles and other utilities, saving up to $1 million according to the city’s Active Transportation Policy Council.
Lavin says an independent traffic study commissioned by residents and executed by G. Ho Engineering Consultants Inc. concluded widening the sidewalks would be dangerous for residents backing out of their driveways. She also says squeezing cyclists and drivers closer together would go against the initial 2013 plan to turn the street into a popular bike lane.
“Essentially they’re undoing in 2016 what the same council created in 2013, which doesn’t make a lot of sense. It also is a lot of wasted money,” she says.
Public consultations were held and the city says they spoke with up to 18,000 locals, but residents call the meetings a “sham” and “insufficient.”
Lavin says she would like to see the seawall extended but calls the current plan a “band-aid solution” that has increased accidents on the street.