City of Vancouver agrees to stop paving Arbutus corridor following complaints

The city started to pave the corridor when plans to remove the now-defunct train tracks there were completed ahead of schedule. But two groups of residents complained, saying they preferred to keep a more wild feel to the corridor.

Nearby resident Mark Battersby said groups opposed to the paving met with city Thursday night

Residents walk along the newly paved stretch of the Arbutus Corridor (Christer Waara/CBC)

The City of Vancouver has agreed to stop paving the Arbutus corridor following complaints from nearby residents.

The city started to pave the corridor when plans to remove the now-defunct train tracks there were completed ahead of schedule. But two groups of residents complained, saying they preferred to keep a more wild feel to the corridor. 

"We have an image or a vision, but we understand that may not be realized in the consultative process," said west side resident Mark Battersby. "We just want to have a proper consultative process."

Jerry Dobrovolny, the city's head of engineering services, said the path was being paved as a temporary measure that was publicly outlined when the corridor was purchased from CP Rail. 

He said the city opted to pave it because past experience showed that would benefit the greatest number of users — including parents with strollers, people with mobility issues and cyclists. 

"We had always intended to do a very large-scale consultation regarding the final product," Dobrovolny said, adding that process is expected to take up to two years.

An artist's rendering of what the Arbutus greenway could look like in the future. (City of Vancouver)

'Slightly amazed'

The city met with the two groups Thursday evening. Later that night, Dobrovolny sent them a message saying they would finish off the paving to W. 33rd Avenue but otherwise the process would stop until further notice.

"Based on the feedback and concerns that have been expressed by this group, the city will start consultation regarding the design of the temporary pathway and use of temporary asphalt," he wrote. 

Battersby said he's pleased to hear the city heard their concerns. 

"We're extremely pleased, even slightly amazed," said Battersby of the city's response. 

"I have great respect for a person who can admit that they made a mistake and changes their strategy. It's not been my experience generally interacting with city bureaucrats."

Battersby said while he's not opposed to a multi-use greenway, he and the others preferred a more natural look.

"What I would like is that there's a chance for a semi-wild experience and a friendly place for a place for walkers as well as cyclists," he said, adding that although the paved corridor was touted as temporary, he felt paving it would unduly influence the outcome of the long-term consultation process. 

With files from Farrah Merali