British Columbia

Construction on Point Grey Road starts this week

A street that's home to some of Vancouver's most expensive houses is about to get its own expensive makeover.

$6.4M project to expand sidewalks, add public benches and fountains

Cyclists pass through Point Grey Road the day before construction begins to widen the sidewalks. (Chister Waara/CBC)

An expensive construction project on Point Grey Road — one of the priciest stretches of land in Vancouver — is nothing new.

But this time it's the road itself that's getting a makeover. 

As work is set to begin on a $6.4 million expansion of the sidewalks this week, some residents continue to fume, arguing it will make the roadway too narrow. 

"They say they want to increase a bigger walking space, but we're very concerned about this," says Mary Lavin, a local resident.

"There simply isn't going to be enough safe space on the road for all these users."

City council approved the project in May, which will see the sidewalks widened from approximately 1.8 metres to three metres.

The project, which comes two years after the city limited vehicles on the street to local traffic only, will also mean the addition of public amenities such as benches and fountains.  

​"We're excited to finally see these sidewalk enhancements happening," said Tanya Paz, chair of the city's Active Transportation Policy Council.  

"It's part of our seawall. We don't necessarily think of it, because on this side it's not as close to the water, but it's Vancouver's best feature... so we need to make it safe for people to get around." 

She says the city will save about a million dollars by doing the work at the same time as sewer and water upgrades.

NPA councillor Melissa De Genova, who opposed the motion, argues it doesn't make sense for the city to spend money on a wealthy neighbourhood that wasn't clamouring for the improvements. 

"It's about priorities. When we look at our budget and how we're spending our money...we're forcing it upon residents who don't want [this project], and instead the city has rammed this through." she said.  

De Genova said some residents are worried about mature trees that will be torn down during construction of the sidewalk. 

But Paz thinks the real issue is a three-metre strip of land in front of the houses where residents have planted trees and hedges, even though that strip belongs to the city.

"That's now going to be used for public benches. That's what they're really outraged about," she said. 

The city expects construction to be finished in 2017. 

With files from Angela Sterritt