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Commissioners push to have Park Board review permanently reducing car traffic in Stanley Park

Last Updated Jun 3, 2020 at 11:15 am PDT

FILE -- A man bikes along a vehicle-restricted road in Stanley Park. (CityNews Vancouver)

Two Park Board commissioners want staff to look at the possibility of permanently reducing car traffic in Stanley Park

Commissioners Stuart Mackinnon, John Irwin say many people have enjoyed the park's car-free atmosphere

Others have expressed accessibility concerns if vehicle access were to be limited in Stanley Park

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – A measure meant to stop the spread of COVID-19 at Vancouver’s largest park may inspire a change post-pandemic.

There’s a new push to reduce the number of cars in Stanley Park long term, after it was closed to all vehicle access since early April.

Park Board Commissioner Stuart Mackinnon is behind a motion to direct staff to explore the possibility of reducing motor vehicle traffic in the park on a long term basis.

“One of the suggestions is to close one of the two lanes on Park Drive, leaving one lane for active transportation, of people on roller blades and bicycles and whatnot, while allowing cars to move around,” he explains. “We understand that if we cut off all cars from Stanley Park, that reduces access to a lot of people, especially people with mobility difficulties.”

Mackinnon and Commissioner John Irwin, who is also behind the motion, add many people have enjoyed the park’s car-free atmosphere.

“People have also noted that having less motor vehicle traffic there makes it more park-like. It’s quite a bit quieter,” Irwin says.

However, others have expressed accessibility concerns.

Early last month, Commissioner John Coupar suggested the idea of to turn one vehicle lane on Stanley Park Drive into a passing lane, creating space for a protected lane all the way around the park, wouldn’t happen.

At the time, he said he was open to car-free days or adjustments for special events, but added Stanley Park should remain accessible to all, not just those who live nearby.

“We make adjustments, the Park Board makes adjustments, and I think they’re reasonable, and I think this adjustment in this time of a pandemic is really good,” Coupar told CityNews Vancouver in early May. “And there’s a lot of people too, seniors or those with disabilities and things like, that can’t necessarily ride a bike or walk long distances.”

He noted paid parking is also necessary, as the money raised through that payment helps sustain the park.

Stanley Park remains closed to vehicle access to reduce the number of people in the area to support physical distancing.

Mackinnon and Irwin’s motion is expected to be presented on Monday.

-With files from Miranda Fatur