VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Allowing vehicles back into Stanley park is a step in the right direction for business owners, but stakeholders argue access should return to what it was before COVID-19 restrictions.
After an emergency meeting was held, the Vancouver Park Board made the decision to allow some traffic back into Stanley Park, with some adjustments. Starting Monday, one lane will be open again to vehicles, while the other will be a bike lane.
“It’s a hollow victory. You’ve got the park open, but at the end of the day, these restaurants probably aren’t going to make it,” says Nigel Malkin, the spokesperson for Stanley Park stakeholders.
He says more people coming through the park will cause a much-needed bump in customer counts for businesses, though not all will benefit from the change.
“Especially Prospect Point Cafe, because once their 70 parking stalls are taken out of the way, they’re basically out of business,” Malkin says, explaining the bike lane will take over the parking spots.
“Accessibility to Prospect Point for anyone will basically be near zero,” Malkin says. “You’d have to park across the road, cross a lane of traffic, pass the cycling traffic to get to the Prospect Point Cafe or Prospect Point.”
Malkin admits the change is a good start since a longer closure would have posed more issues. However, he says returning to pre-pandemic traffic rules would be ideal.
“Unfortunately, I’m sure once these bike pylons, or bike cement blocks or whatever goes in is in, it will more than likely stay. I certainly hope it doesn’t.”
One lane of traffic will still delay people from going to the park, given the lack of accessibility, Malkin adds.
“It’s inevitable you end up with severe traffic issues.”
He says stakeholders will be meeting Friday to discuss possible legal challenges to the recent changes.
“Now how much money are you going to pour into legal action when [their[ business is currently doing next to nothing, I don’t know. It depends on how deep their pockets are.”
He points out access to the park from North Vancouver will also be cut off along the causeway.
Vehicle access was cut off to the park in April to curb the spread of COVID-19.
-With files from Monika Gul