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Rally calls for end to Stanley Park traffic restrictions

Last Updated Sep 12, 2020 at 4:16 pm PST

FILE - A push to cut vehicle traffic in Stanley Park long-term will be put to a vote Monday, June 8, 2020 during a meeting of the Vancouver Park Board. (Riley Phillips, NEWS 1130 photo)
Summary

Seniors and people living with disabilities say they were cut off from the park when the pandemic closures took effect

A Park Board commissioner says closing the park to cars was the right move, restricting traffic is no longer necessary

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — A group rallying in Stanley Park Saturday wants traffic restored to the way it was before the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a move meant to reduce crowds and encourage physical distancing, the park was closed to all vehicle traffic in April. In June, the Park Board voted to allow traffic once again at reduced capacity by closing one lane, turning it into a bike lane, and limiting available parking spots.

Park Board Commissioner Tricia Barker says seniors and people living with disabilities were cut off from the park when the pandemic closures took effect.

“This is their way to say, ‘Remember us?’ We would still like to get into the park,” she says.

Barker says closing the park to cars was the right move, but restricting traffic is no longer necessary.

“We have to remind people that we closed a lot of the parks very early on in dealing with the pandemic when we didn’t really know what was happening,” she says.

“When we started opening up things, knowing that being outside was the best, the only place that didn’t get opened were the roads to Stanley Park, there was a worry that too many people would be on the Seawall and bunching up. We have 1,000 acres in Stanley Park and that should be opened up for everybody to enjoy.”

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A petition asking for restrictions on cars to be lifted has gathered over 25,000 signatures.

“This is what we did for an emergency response in a pandemic,” Barker says.

“We want to put Stanley Park back to the way it was. It wasn’t broken, so let’s get it back to the way it was.”

Barker adds the changes to vehicle access were not meant to be a trial or a pilot project.