Vancouver Park Board rejects council’s proposal to get rid of Beach Ave. bike lane

The Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation dissented against the City of Vancouver Monday night, rejecting council’s plan to remove a separated bike lane and reinstate a traffic lane near Stanley Park.

Park Board commissioners decided to ignore city council’s wish to bring back two-lane traffic on Beach Avenue in the West End, and instead keep the bike lane.

“The independence of the Park Board is why we bring this forward, to prioritize to council that park amenities and park features, playgrounds for kids, skateboard parks for youth, are all a bigger priority than allowing cars to drive to the park,” former ABC and now independent Commissioner Brennan Bastyovanszky explained.

The Beach Ave. bike lane has been a major source of contention since the separated lane was introduced in 2020, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Vancouver city council approved a plan in April to restore two-way vehicle traffic, parking, and eventually construct new pedestrian and bike paths.

The plan, which was included in the city’s West End waterfront plan, came after councillors decided to scrap the 30-yearImagine West End Waterfront Parks, Beaches and Transportation Vision project, which had been in the works since 2021.

Former ABC, now independent, Commissioner Scott Jensen believes the city shouldn’t “be spending $16 million on adding a car lane at the expense of a bike lane that is proven to be extremely successful.”

“Let’s get to the point of building parks amenities for a community that much needs [them],” he added.

But the decision by the commissioners was not unanimous. ABC Commissioner Jas Virdi explained the Park Board’s decision to reject the removal of the bike lane is “another example” of competing governments.

“This is yet another example of us opposing what council does, and constantly fighting and opposing, and fighting and opposing, and wasting money,” he said. “This is exactly why I think there shouldn’t be two opposing boards.”

City council voted to dissolve the Park Board and assume all responsibilities in December 2023. Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim said at the time the Park Board was inefficient and costly. In April of this year, the B.C. government said it would back the city’s plan, but only after the upcoming provincial election, slated for Oct. 19.

Taking to social media on Tuesday morning, Sim said the Park Board’s decision “let down Vancouverites.”

“The elected Park Board made the irrational decision not to grow and expand park space in the West End. They also said no to safer streets by turning down a fully funded AAA bike lane and improved pedestrian crossings,” he said on X.

“This is what happens when two different organizations are responsible for the same thing. The elected Park Board’s decision is a setback for Vancouverites, but it is only temporary. When the City takes over Parks and Recreation Services next year, we will ensure our parks and facilities serve our community to their fullest potential,” Sim added.

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