Vancouver Parks Board votes to keep Beach Avenue bike path

The Vancouver Parks and Recreation Board spoke out against the City of Vancouver Monday night, rejecting the council’s plan to remove a separated bike path and reinstate a traffic lane near Stanley Park.

Park Board commissioners decided to ignore the City Council’s wish to restore two-lane traffic on Beach Avenue in the West End and instead keep the bike lane.

“The independence of the parks board is why we’re bringing this forward, to give the board priority over park amenities and features, playgrounds for kids, skateboard parks for youth, all of which are a higher priority than allowing cars to drive into the park,” said former ABC commissioner and now independent Brennan Bastyovanszky.

The Beach Ave. bike lane has been a major source of contention since the separated lane was introduced in 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In April, Vancouver City Council approved a plan to restore two-way traffic, parking and, eventually, build new pedestrian and bike paths.

The plan, which was included in the city’s West End waterfront plan, came after councillors decided to scrap the 30-year planProject Imagine West End waterfront parks, beaches and transportwhich has been in preparation since 2021.

Former ABC commissioner, now independent, Scott Jensen, says the city should not “spend $16 million to add a car lane at the expense of a bike lane that has proven to be extremely effective.”

“Let’s go out there and build parks and amenities for a community that needs them so much,” he added.

But the commissioners’ decision was not unanimous. ABC commissioner Jas Virdi said the parks board’s decision to reject the bike path removal was “another example” of competing governments.

“This is another example of us opposing what the city council is doing, our constant fight, our opposition, and our waste of money,” he said. “That’s exactly why I think there shouldn’t be two opposing boards.”

City council voted to dissolve the parks commission and take over all responsibilities in December 2023. Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim said at the time that the parks commission was ineffective and costly. In April of this year, the B.C. government said it would support the city’s plan, but only after the next provincial election, scheduled for Oct. 19.

Taking to social media Tuesday morning, Sim said the parks board’s decision “let down the people of Vancouver.”

“The elected parks board made the irrational decision not to develop and expand the West End’s green spaces. They also said no to safer streets by refusing a fully funded AAA bike lane and improved crosswalks,” he said on X.

“This is what happens when two different bodies are responsible for the same thing. The decision by the elected parks board is a setback for Vancouverites, but it is only temporary. When the City takes over parks and recreation services next year, we will ensure that our parks and facilities serve our community to their fullest potential,” added Sim.