VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — The Vancouver Park Board has voted 5-2 in favour of bringing back a controversial, temporary bike lane that goes through Stanley Park.
Usually, the two lanes of traffic are exclusively meant for cars, but now one of the lanes will be open to cyclists instead. The bike lane will be re-installed immediately and will be in place until the end of October.
.@ParkBoard has voted 5-2 to bring back controversial bike lane through Stanley Park. Two lanes of traffic usually meant for vehicles will once again become one lane for bikes and one for cars. The lane will be reinstalled immediately and remain in place until October. @NEWS1130
— Tarnjit Parmar (@Tarnjitkparmar) March 11, 2021
The debate leading up to the vote has been contentious, as critics say the change would negatively impact local businesses due to decreased parking and vehicle traffic.
But Commissioner Tricia Barker said she was worried about the change making the park less accessible.
“I think what we’ve learned with COVID is sometimes some of our seniors, this might be their last summer, and to do anything that would make it difficult for them to get into the park that they love just — I would never be able to vote for that,” she said.
During the council meeting, Barker read an email sent from a member of the public who called out inappropriate and offensive arguments made during the debate.
“It’s inappropriate to utilize the preference of any specified group to justify the diminishment of accessibility rights. Legal entitlements cannot be simply surveyed away,” the letter read.
“It is never appropriate for able-bodied individuals to determine accessibility, on behalf of those who have lived experience, and what is truly accessible,” Barker said, reading the email.
Green Party Commissioner Camil Dumon added it’s important to remember that access and inclusion take different shapes.
“Part of the goal behind this motion is to include folks for whom currently the park doesn’t work for… with two lanes of vehicular traffic and no lane for a bike.”
Last summer, business owners in the park complained about fewer customers, but commissioner Dave Demers said the loss of revenue was unavoidable given the pandemic.
“The bike lane cannot be blamed for a total lack of tourism last year. The bike lane cannot be blamed for the loss of revenues in parking and lost revenues in a year where the world’s economy pretty much came to a standstill — I think we should put that into perspective,” he said.
And Stuart Mackinnon, Chair of the Board, said he wants to ensure people know the motion “is not a ban.”
“It’s very important that we talk about this is not a ban on cars in Stanley Park. It’s simply allowing two different modes of transportation, automobiles and bicycles to access the road,” he said.
Those against the temporary lane say it removes 666 parking spots, making the park less accessible to all. Cyclists for the lane have expressed their excitement, saying they’re looking forward to a place to get out and exercise in a COVID-safe way.