A Vancouver city councillor is encouraging residents to use the prized stretch of secluded waterfront that is without a seawall between Kitsilano beach and Jericho Park.
Vision Vancouver Coun. Geoff Meggs made the suggestion in the council chambers Tuesday during debate about an idea to connect the seawall between the beach and the park.
Under what Meggs described as “common property access rights,” he said residents are free to walk along the foreshore—at low tide—in front of the multi-million dollar homes.
“It would be useful to emphasize that point and perhaps see if there are ways for people who are prepared to take more risks, to complete a walk along there today—without a lot of infrastructure investment and start to establish that as a walking route when conditions permit,” Meggs said. “I’ve walked it from time to time, others have and there may be opportunities to do that in the short haul without a massive investment.”
Meggs’ suggestion came during NPA Coun. George Affleck’s motion to have city staff study the feasibility of connecting the seawall between the beach and the park.
Affleck’s motion went before council after news surfaced last week that a philanthropist approached Mayor Gregor Robertson earlier this year with an offer to spend “tens of millions of dollars” to pay for the project.
The philanthropist has chosen to remain anonymous.
Vision Vancouver Coun. Heather Deal successfully amended Affleck’s motion to have staff work with the park board to identify possibilities for increasing public access to the waterfront city-wide, including along the Fraser River.
The Fraser River option was raised by Vision Vancouver during its 2011 civic election campaign. No costs were associated to the idea, which would also likely require approval of the Musqueam Indian Band.
“There is a lot of the city not included in the seawall,” Deal said. “Much of the northeast of the city and all of the Fraser River frontage does not have a seawall.”
The philanthropist, however, was clear that he or she wants the money spent on closing the gap on the seawall network between Kitsilano and Jericho.
Councillors noted during the debate that a lot of work would have to be done on studying environmental impacts, engineering challenges and consulting neighbours and the public before a plan could be finalized.
Affleck said the people he spoke to in the neighbourhood want the seawall extended from Kitsilano to Jericho. He said the idea for putting his motion forward didn’t come following the news last week about the philanthropist’s offer.
Affleck said it came after a stroll he and friends took a few weeks ago that was abruptly halted by the end of the seawall on the Kitsilano side.
“We hit that wall of shrubbage and we thought this seems challenging, we can’t get further along to Jericho,” he said.
“Vancouver is renowned for the seawall. It’s one of our most used public spaces in the city. It’s one of our most popular photos on postcards.”
City staff didn’t give any indication when a report on the feasibility of the proposed seawall project would be back before council.