The route of the Kits and Hadden parks bike path might be “tweaked” but it’s still going to be built, according to park board commissioner Constance Barnes.
Barnes spoke to the Courier Monday, a day after hundreds gathered at a “Save Kits Beach” rally to demand that the park board rethink the location of the planned 12-foot-wide paved path.
The board approved the path Oct. 7 as part of the overall Seaside Greenway plan connecting Canada Place to Stanley Park to False Creek and finally Jericho. It’s an extension of the Cornwall-Point Grey bike lane.
Budgeted at $2.2 million, the path will run from Hadden Park along Kits Beach and west to the outdoor pool.
Some residents and sports and recreation organizations argued the park board conducted insufficient consultation. They insist the path will interfere with other activities at Kits Beach.
In response, the park board issued a press release Friday Oct. 18 to say the final route hadn’t been determined and that the board had only approved a preliminary route. An external consultant team was to develop a specific route that accounted for park uses, as well as trees, benches and picnic areas.
The park board also promised to establish an advisory group of park users, including sports groups, seniors, youth and residents, to work with park staff and the consultant in the final design of the route.
Barnes attended Sunday’s rally.
“I heard a lot of good suggestions. My reasoning for going was to listen to the people,” she said, while stressing the park board is moving forward with the separated bike and pedestrian path and that it’s still expected to be completed in 2014.
“It’s a matter of tweaking. There is a path that’s laid out. I don’t see that we’re going to make huge changes at this point. I think what we’ll do is tweak the existing route,” she said. “I don’t see that there’s reason to be delaying when the money is there. We’re looking for safety. We want to make sure people are safe.”
Bill Hooker, a resident who took part in the rally and helped publicize it, said he has mixed feelings about the latest developments.
“I have a hope [for the advisory committee] and a suspicion. My hope is that it actually convenes and works effectively and comes up with a practical result that satisfies all players,” he said. “But I suspect it might be just a diversionary tactic — it takes the heat off and lets the park board go ahead and do what they want to do anyway. My best result would be that it turns out it’s unnecessary and that there’s a revision of the plan.”
Hooker, who estimated the rally attracted upwards of 300 people, questions how big a “tweak” to the route might be, but said it’s possible to make changes that would satisfy concerns.
“One possibility is that they move the path onto the grass outside the trees immediately next to the sidewalk, so they’re moving closer to Arbutus Street,” he said. “Another is to put a path on Arbutus Street. There was some talk about even making Arbutus, as it parallels the park and swings around to Ogden [Avenue], to make those one-way streets — so, it should be one way and contain a bike lane.”
Barnes said park board staff would work on the terms of reference for the advisory group this week.
“This has all happened very quickly in response to the amount of concern we’ve heard. So we need to make sure the terms of reference are clear before we start putting people together and names together,” she said. “I know a lot of people have emailed in that they’d love to be on it.”
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