‘Big ideas’ sought for Arbutus Greenway

The city kicked off public consultation for the future of the Arbutus Greenway Wednesday, with Mayor Gregor Robertson calling on Vancouverites to share their “big ideas.”

“We’ll be asking people from across the city to help shape the greenway in the weeks and months ahead. We’re looking for lots of creative ideas,” he said during a press conference on the corridor at 57th Street. “This is such an exceptional opportunity. We want to hear big ideas, we want to hear big dreams and initiatives from the citizens of Vancouver about what’s possible here. We’ve got now a clean slate to work from. People can come out and experience the greenway through the winter. It’s in great shape now. And we’re looking forward to hearing ideas, as people use it and experience it, for what this should look like in Vancouver’s future.”

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The nine-kilometre stretch of land is meant to be an active transportation corridor with the possibility of adding light rail transit in the future.

Last October, the city selected a separated asphalt surface, accommodating both cyclists and pedestrians, for a temporary path along the greenway to encourage more residents to use it. Some sections of the route will also feature a bark mulch trail.

Much of the temporary path has already been paved, but completion of the project was delayed due to weather. Work will resume next Monday on the final 35 per cent. Landscaping will start in the spring, including the addition of some amenities and things such as pollinator gardens, according to Jerry Dobrovolny, the city’s general manager of engineering.

Dobrovolny called the first portion of the consultation process a “listening and learning” phase.

“This is an incredible opportunity for us to build a tremendous asset that stretches from one end of Vancouver to the other,” he said. “Now is the time to get engaged. We’ve had tremendous involvement and we’re counting on people to stay involved in the process over the next few months as we shape and we come up with a conceptual design for the greenway’s outcome.”

Claudia Laroye, executive director of the Marpole Business Improvement Association, said it’s important to get good engagement from the community.

“Everybody should be involved. This is a huge amenity for Vancouver, especially for the neighbourhoods that it’s passing through like Marpole and Kerrisdale,” she said. “So I’m hopeful that people will be engaged in the process and get their voices heard.”

Laroye said she has an open mind about the possibilities for the greenway’s design, but she’d love to see multi-modal, active transportation options.  “Walking, cycling, making it accessible to people with strollers and in wheelchairs is critical,” she explained. “Making it beautiful, landscaped and well-lit [is important], as well as having public art and also unique features that reflect the uniqueness of each community. In our case, in Marpole, the Musqueam heritage is huge and that should be reflected in some way because the end point of this greenway is right where the Marpole Midden is. In terms of the future plans of having at-grade transit, we have to look at what the cost implications would be for that as a city, and whether or not other municipalities would pony up for that. I don’t know if they will.”

Feedback from the consultation process will inform a vision statement that will be released in March. Several design concepts will then be developed and shared with the public in the fall of 2017.

Consultation includes an online survey in English and Chinese, which can be found on the Arbutus Greenway site. Feedback will be accepted until Feb. 15.

Three open houses are planned on Feb. 4, 9 and 11. A pop-up kiosk to gather input will also appear at two sites on Feb. 1. Find locations and further details at vancouver.ca/arbutus-greenway.



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