Celebration for Vancouver's Seaside Greenway completion draws protesters
Local residents still angry over conversion of Point Grey Road to pedestrian, cyclist draw
One of Vancouver's most controversial cycling and walking paths — a 28-kilometre route from the convention centre downtown to Spanish Banks Park — is officially complete.
But on Saturday, efforts to celebrate the finishing touches were marked with protests by local residents.
"Instead of making a street beautiful, the street is now totally ugly," said David Lin.
Approved in 2014, the goal of the Seaside Greenway project was to improve walking and cycling routes by turning Point Grey Road in Vancouver's Kitsilano neighbourhood from an arterial road, which saw 10,000 vehicles use it a day, to a local-only route, favouring cyclists and pedestrians.
"We're celebrating the completion of one of the most challenging sections of seawall we used to have here," said Lon LaClaire, director of transportation for the City of Vancouver.
The city says the project improved the section of the waterfront road, expanded green space, and also upgraded sewers and water mains.
The changes also aim to improve safety by reducing potential conflicts between people exiting their driveways and people walking along the greenway.
However, some local residents aren't convinced.
"As a property owner and a taxpayer in this city, it frustrates me when my tax dollars are spent needlessly," said Chris Lee.
The city spent $6.4 million to widen a sidewalk along Point Grey Road. Residents like Lee say since the project began there has been traffic gridlock.
Still, LaClaire says there is widespread support for the project.
"This is one of the most extensive consultation projects we've ever done and it had to be extensive because it was converting an arterial street to a local street that meant it impacted a huge portion of the city."
Now, only 300 cars run along the section of Point Grey Road, while the number of cyclists has risen from 600 per day to 2,700, according to the city.
"This was an area of focus for us because we could see the biggest gains for our investment," said LaClaire.
with files from Jon Hernandez.