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Vancouver’s parks board halts work on controversial path project

The initiative is part of an effort that has spanned 20 years to separate out bike paths and pedestrian paths between Canada Place downtown and, eventually, Jericho Beach on the west side of Vancouver.

Rafal Gerszak/The Globe and Mail

Vancouver's parks board has suspended work on a controversial plan to separate bicycle and pedestrian traffic in Kitsilano-area parks pending a hearing next year on a lawsuit over a particular piece of the proposed project.

At issue is work in Hadden Park, a two-block area that area resident and local historian Megan Carvell Davis says was ceded the city in the 1920s on condition that it was kept pristine.

The parks board, as part of a $2.2-million project, was intent on separating out bicycle and pedestrian traffic with a 3.5-metre-wide path that Ms. Davis says is too large for the park along Kitsilano beach.

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The initiative is part of an effort that has spanned 20 years to separate out bike paths and pedestrian paths between Canada Place downtown and, eventually, Jericho Beach on the west side of Vancouver.

It is not connected with the ongoing controversies over Vancouver's efforts to create bike pathways throughout the city that has lately seen the creation of barrier-separated lanes and other route improvements. That push has prompted accusations that Mayor Gregor Robertson and his Vision Vancouver party are biased toward bikes.

In the area of Kits Beach, there has been some concern over the city's plans for a bike route along Cornwall Street and Point Grey Road, channelling traffic along some of the most expensive properties in the city.

In the Hadden Park dispute, a hearing in B.C. Supreme Court is expected in March, 2014, responding to an injunction sought by Ms. Davis against the park board's plan.

"We've put the pause button on because of the lawsuit," Constance Barnes, a parks board member, said Sunday. "It's the respectful thing to do, halt any kind of work going forward."

Still, Ms. Barnes defended the planned project to separate out pedestrian and cycle traffic. "Our number-one goal is to separate the pedestrians from people on bicycles and skateboards because it is really unsafe," she said.

Staff will be directed to work on other parks board projects while the issue makes its way through the courts, Ms. Barnes said. Despite the delay, Ms. Barnes said the city remains committed to the infrastructure, and is not worried about losing momentum.

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"When the time comes, we'll see what the courts decide and move forward accordingly," she said.

Ms. Davis's spokesperson said Sunday that she's thrilled with the delay and prospect of a reckoning in the courts. "She's very, very happy that the injunction has been served and accepted," said Tina Oliver.

Ms. Oliver said Ms. Davis is optimistic about victory in the courts. "She's quite confident in the research she has done. The city cannot do this."

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About the Author
B.C. reporter

Ian Bailey is a Vancouver-based reporter for The Globe and Mail.  He covers politics and general news. Prior to arriving at The Globe and Mail, he reported from Toronto and St. John’s for The Canadian Press.  He has also covered British Columbia for CP, The National Post and The Province. More

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