British Columbia

Vancouver Park Board looks for more feedback on changes to Stanley Park

The Vancouver Park Board says it has received more than 7,500 responses to a survey about changes to Stanley Park during the pandemic. It hopes to hear from even more people.

Deadline for survey extended until Sept. 20

Stanley Park currently has one lane for vehicular traffic and one for cyclists. The park board wants more feedback from the public to determine whether the changes should become permanent. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

The Vancouver Park Board says it has received more than 7,500 responses to a survey about changes to Stanley Park during the pandemic, and it hopes to receive more.

The park board has extended the deadline for its Stanley Park — Response to COVID-19 survey until midnight on Sept. 20.

Lane reductions and other changes made to Stanley Park since the spring have been celebrated by some people for opening the park up to more cyclists and pedestrians, while others have decried choke points for cars and parking issues. 

The survey is meant to inform decision-makers as they consider whether any of the changes should become permanent.

Car access through Stanley Park has been limited since April to encourage people to practise physical distancing while walking and cycling. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

In April, the park board temporarily closed the roads in Stanley Park to motorized vehicles and diverted cyclists off the seawall and onto Stanley Park Drive.

The goal was to allow for better physical distancing, giving cyclists more room to bike through the park and pedestrians more space on the seawall, according to the park board.

In late June, roads in Stanley Park were reopened to vehicles with a temporary traffic plan that has one dedicated lane for car traffic and one lane for cyclists.

The seawall remains closed to cyclists.

'It wasn't broken'

On Saturday, about 50 people gathered in the park to voice their displeasure with changes to road access. 

An online petition asking that the temporary closure be reversed had 28,000 signatures as of early Sunday evening. 

Colleen McGuinness, chair of the senior advisory committee for the City of Vancouver, says the current iteration of the park makes it difficult for people with disabilities and some seniors to visit. She and others want it returned to two lanes of traffic. 

McGuinness said the park board also didn't do enough to consult the community on the temporary changes.

"What we're trying to say is, 'It wasn't broken. You're trying to fix it and you did a poor job. Take it back to where it was."

Two-wheel trips

In the spring, when Stanley Park was completely closed to vehicles, bike trips increased 76 per cent, up from an average of 3,000 cyclists per day to more than 5,300.

On Mother's Day, 8,301 people rode through Stanley Park, according to the park board.

It says more than 90 per cent of Stanley Park Drive is still accessible to vehicle traffic. Seventy-four per cent of parking spots are also still available. 

Any future permanent changes, it also said, "will require extensive engagement with stakeholders and the public."

With files from Deborah Goble


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