British Columbia

Stanley Park will reopen to vehicles again after board vote, but for one lane only

The Vancouver Park Board has voted to reopen Stanley Park Drive to vehicles, though the road won't work the way it did before the pandemic: Vehicles will now have to share the road with a separated bike lane.

Park Board commissioners vote to reconfigure roadway to offer one lane for cars, one for bikes

Stanley Park Drive on April 7, before park roads were closed to vehicle traffic. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

The Vancouver Park Board has voted to ease traffic restrictions in Stanley Park, meaning cars will soon be allowed to return — but not with the same level of access as before.

Board commissioners voted in the early hours of Friday for a plan to reopen just one lane of park traffic for cars. The other lane will be a separated bike lane.

The 5-2 decision came after an hours-long emergency meeting Thursday that stretched well past midnight.

More than 100 people were registered to speak at the meeting, which was called by NPA commissioners Tricia Barker and John Coupar, who asked that the park be opened the way it was before the COVID-19 pandemic — without a separated bike lane.

The seawall was closed to cyclists in early April to prevent crowding and encourage physical distancing. Cyclists were diverted to Stanley Park Drive — which circles the park — and the road was, in turn, closed to all vehicle traffic. Park board staff and some people accessing local facilities and businesses were granted exceptions.

Those calling for cars to return Thursday said accessibility and parking were major concerns. Some members of the public who spoke in favour of a total reopening said they worried a single car lane would create a traffic "log jam," while others questioned whether a split-lane system would hinder access for emergency vehicles.

Businesses have also raised concerns about a drop in customers if vehicle access was not restored in full.

Cyclists ride through Stanley Park on April 8. The roads through the park were closed to vehicles and bikes diverted to them to encourage people to practise physical distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)