British Columbia

Judge tosses restaurants' lawsuit over Stanley Park bike lane

A B.C. Supreme Court judge has dismissed an attempt by a group of Vancouver restaurants to overturn a decision temporarily dedicating one lane of Stanley Park Drive to bicycles. 

Court rules park board resolution dedicating 1 lane of road to cyclists was not unreasonable

Park Board commissioners voted in March to temporarily create a dedicated bike lane along Stanley Park Drive. (Karin Larsen/CBC)

A B.C. Supreme Court judge has dismissed an attempt by a group of Vancouver restaurants to overturn a decision temporarily dedicating one lane of Stanley Park Drive to bicycles. 

The companies that own the Teahouse in Stanley Park, the Stanley Park Pavilion and the Prospect Point Bar and Grill had asked the court to have a Vancouver Park Board resolution on the matter set aside as unreasonable.

Justice Sheila Tucker rejected that argument in reasons for judgment handed down on Tuesday, writing that the restaurants "have established no basis" for their claims.

"A decision need not be flawless in order to be reasonable," she wrote.

The dispute began with a resolution passed by a five-to-two margin on March 10 to bring in a temporary dedicated bike path along the road, which loops around the park.

The resolution cites Vancouver's declaration of a climate emergency and the city's Climate Emergency Action Plan, which set a target for 2030 for two-thirds of trips in Vancouver to be by bike, foot or public transit.

The restaurants had argued that the park board's decision was based on an assumption that adding a dedicated bike lane would reduce greenhouse gas emissions because people who had previously driven to the park would choose to bike or walk instead.

That assumed premise was "almost certainly false," the businesses maintained.

"They surmise that the 2021 bike lane will result in more congestion and idling by vehicles on Park Drive and motivate erstwhile Stanley Park visitors to drive farther to use other parks, and so increase overall emissions," the judgment says.

The company that owns the Teahouse in Stanley Park was part of the petition against the park board. (Jon Hernandez/CBC)

But Tucker found that to be an oversimplification of the park board's decision, writing that each commissioner's vote was "an individual judgment call" based on a number of different considerations.

"The resolution is a small and exploratory component in a wide-ranging policy response to a social dilemma, not an operational solution to emission volumes," she wrote.

The resolution, proposed by Green Party Commissioner Camil Dumont, noted that when Stanley Park Drive closed to vehicles last year to help give more room for physical distancing on the seawall, cycling volume went up by 180 per cent in comparison to 2019.

When the restaurants filed their petition earlier this year, their lawyer told CBC News that they suffered "devastating" losses because of the closure.

As a result of Tucker's judgment, the companies that own the three restaurants will have to pay the park board's legal costs.

With files from Karin Larsen

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