Point Grey residents fuming over city's $6.4M sidewalk expansion
'It's a waste of money. It's $6.4M to widen a sidewalk that is obviously not needed,' says resident
Residents along Point Grey Road don't understand why the City of Vancouver has decided to spend $6.4 million to expand the sidewalk in front of their homes by 1.2 metres.
"If you want to fix the sidewalk, fix the sidewalk. But to make the sidewalk wider when it is not needed on a street where there are no cars allowed — that is insane," said Nelson Skalbania, who has lived on the street for 30 years.
The pedestrian sidewalk expansion will be taking place at one of the city's wealthiest postal codes. The sidewalk is currently 1.8 metres wide, when the city is finished building it out, it will be three metres.
"I think there is a lot of better ways to spend the money. When you look down the street, it is beautiful," said Allan Jones, who lives in downtown but visits friends in the area frequently.
A few years ago the busy road, which was frequented by up to 10,000 cars a day, was closed to through traffic making it safer for cyclists.
The city says it wants to expand the sidewalk to provide a high quality pedestrian walkway to connect the 22-kilometre seawall that runs through the city's waterfront from the Convention Centre to Stanley Park through to Spanish Banks, Jericho Beach and UBC.
The improvements are all on city-owned land, but many homeowners have landscaped the easement.
"The city is destroying all the beautiful landscaping and trees that are on this stretch of road ...That's all going to be gone and replaced by concrete," said John Cassils, a resident of the area since 1970.
While the upset residents understand the land is the city's, they say there is no need to expand the sidewalk because there aren't enough pedestrians frequenting the area.
"It's a waste of money. It's $6.4 million to widen the sidewalk that is obviously not needed today," he said, "Pedestrian [numbers] haven't changed at all. It's mostly local traffic because it is a long stretch of road."
Larry Estrin who has lived on Point Grey Road for 54 years agrees.
"I can't see it will ever have that density of use that you would expect to see a 10-foot-sidewalk downtown somewhere, you will never have huge crowds walking in both directions," he said.
But the City of Vancouver is confident the pedestrian numbers will grow when the improvements are made.
"The cycling numbers jumped from 600 to over 3,000, and as we do the improvements for pedestrians we expect those numbers to grow dramatically," said Jerry Dobrovolny, general manager with the City of Vancouver's engineering services.
"I recognize it is a change for residents on the corridor ... but it is not okay to encroach on city property and just set up shop and build a fence on city property and now it is a situation where the whole city will benefit from the project that widens the sidewalk and takes some of that space back," said Dobrovolny.
Upset residents are holding a rally, Sunday, June 26th. The city plans to begin construction this summer.
- An earlier version of this story said Point Grey road was closed to vehicle traffic. In fact, it was (and is still) closed to through traffic.Jun 23, 2016 11:39 AM PT