Stanley Park bike lane debate resumes after disruptive Vancouver Parks Board meeting

·2 min read
Cyclists and cars share the road through Stanley Park in Vancouver, B.C. in June 2020.  (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)
Cyclists and cars share the road through Stanley Park in Vancouver, B.C. in June 2020. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)

The Vancouver Park Board continued to hear from the public on Tuesday evening about the future of bike lanes in Stanley Park after Monday's meeting was abruptly cut short.

The meeting was ended by Park Board Commissioner Camil Dumont, who was acting as meeting chair, after "disruption" caused by members of the public in the gallery, according to a statement by General Manager Donnie Rosa.

Tensions ran high between Dumont and public speakers on Monday, the last of whom called park board staff a "disgrace" and described staff and the mobility study as ideologically motivated.

On Tuesday, the meeting resumed with members of the public continuing to speak passionately, albeit more respectfully, in support of — or opposition to — keeping the bike lanes in Stanley Park.

Ben Nelms/CBC
Ben Nelms/CBC

Before hearing from speakers, Dumont read out Rosa's written statement in response to the Monday night meeting.

The statement said multiple members of the public had yelled at commissioners and staff in attendance, swearing and pounding on the chamber doors. It also said a speaker was heckled as they left the podium.

"To be clear, the Park Board welcomes passionate debate and dialogue," reads Rosa's written statement. "Last night's meeting took a turn that meant we could not ensure the safety of the public, staff and commissioners."

The general manager said park rangers had to escort commissioners and staff out of the building on Monday.

Security staff and park rangers were present at Tuesday's meeting as a result.

Park board to vote on mobility study 

The park board is meeting to decide on the future of the Stanley Park mobility plan, which aims to reduce vehicle traffic in the park. The plan has been criticized for being discriminatory toward those with accessibility issues.

In 2020, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the park was closed to vehicles to allow more room for bicycles, while the seawall was dedicated to pedestrians. Currently, one lane of Stanley Park Drive is open to vehicle traffic and one lane is dedicated to cycling traffic. Planners are working to determine if this change, or others, are worth making permanent.

Commissioners are not yet voting on whether to keep the bike lane itself, but rather deciding whether to approve a recommendation from parks staff about the principles that should guide the mobility study of Stanley Park.

The six proposed guiding principles are safety, accessibility, economic vitality, climate action and environmental protection, a flexible and resilient system, a connected transportation network, and an enhanced park experience.

Only three speakers were heard before the meeting was recessed Monday. Over 40 members of the public had signed up to speak at the meeting.

On Tuesday, Dumont repeatedly had to remind speakers that they were meant to speak to their support or opposition to the proposed guiding principles, and not the future of the bike lane.