Park Board puts the brakes on idea to keep Stanley Park car-free permanently

Stanley Park has been closed to vehicle traffic since the beginning of April. A cycling advocate says it opens a conversation about what the park’s new normal could look like. Miranda Fatur reports.

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – It’s been almost a month since Stanley Park became off-limits to cars, and some are wondering if it should be the “new normal,” even after the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There are lots of calls for a discussion about what could be,” Jeff Leigh with HUB Cycling says, adding it would be a shame to revert back to the way things were. “I think it would be a shame if we simply reverted to the way this was two or three months back.”

He explains one idea is to turn one vehicle lane on Stanley Park Drive into a passing lane. “…And that would create space to create a protected bicycle lane all the way around the park on the perimeter.”

However, while the idea is being tossed around by some, the Vancouver Park Board is suggesting it won’t happen.

He says he’s open to car-free days or adjustments for special events, but Park Board Commissioner John Coupar says Stanley Park should be accessible to all — not just those who live close by.

“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,” he tells CityNews Vancouver. “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.”

In addition to accessibility, Coupar says paid parking is also necessary.

“The parking in the park actually sustains the park. We get about a million dollars in revenue through parking every year, and that allows us to maintain Stanley Park.”

At this point, there’s still no word on when Stanley Park will reopen to vehicle traffic. Coupar says as the situation progresses, he believes we’ll see “rolling changes” over the coming weeks.

Vehicle access to the park was restricted on April 8 at noon to encourage physical distancing by reducing traffic. Parking lots at Stanley Park were closed a week earlier. Meanwhile, the order does not include the causeway, which remains open.

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