Both Vision Vancouver and the NPA are separately taking credit for bringing forward a proposal to extend the seawall from Kits Beach to Spanish Banks.
The proposal is found in two motions: one from NPA Coun. George Affleck who was to bring a motion forward at city council's Tuesday meeting, after the Courier's print deadline. The other was a notice of motion introduced by Vision Vancouver park board commissioner Sarah Blyth at the board's meeting Monday night. Her version won't be dealt with until the board's July 23 meeting.
Affleck said Monday he had no idea Vision was considering a plan to extend the 22-kilometre seawall when he announced last week his upcoming motion would ask staff to explore that same idea. On the same day Affleck announced his intentions, Vision Vancouver announced it had an anonymous donor lined up to help pay to complete such a plan, which is estimated to cost tens of millions of dollars. "So it became the battle of the motions," Affleck said. Affleck said he was inspired to bring the motion forward after a visit to Kits Beach with friends several weeks ago. He added since working on the city's official Transportation 2040 plan, extending the seawall made sense to him.
"The seawall is not just a tourist attraction, it's also a major transportation route," Affleck said.
Blyth told the Courier this week she'd been in discussions with Vision Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson about the proposal for months and long before Affleck's move. Her motion, which if approved July 23, will see staff developing options to connect the seawall and provide a timeline and estimate of costs for the job. Blyth's motion also asks staff to investigate extending the Fraser River pathway along the Marpole shore.
Blyth said she was surprised by Affleck's announcement. "I had already been talking to Gregor about this for months," said Blyth. "And then he said he might know some people who would donate to a project like this. I thought that would be amazing."
Blyth was inspired to research the project on behalf of numerous residents who've brought it to her attention since she's been on the board.
"But I like to see if something can work before I bring it forward, which is why I didn't announce it earlier," said Blyth.
She noted it's very early days, but added if her motion is approved July 23, the work will begin in earnest. That preliminary work will include city engineering reports, community consultations, meeting with residents along the route, discussions with the federal department of Fisheries and Oceans, which manages the foreshore along that stretch of beach, and nailing down the cost and funding. Blyth also wants staff to address any First Nations concerns regarding the extension of the Fraser River pathway.
Blyth says she does not know the identity of the donor for the seawall project, and neither does Affleck, which is one of his concerns with the deal. Affleck wants Vision to divulge the name of the anonymous benefactor to the rest of council during an in camera session.
"The city through Vision just received a $30 million anonymous donation for Taylor Manor [supportive housing]," said Affleck. "We have strict rules around transparency and donations during elections. I don't see this as much different."
In recent years, the park board has needed approval from the city for several large projects, which would likely be the case with the seawall.
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