If City Hall told you they would repave the street in front of your home with brand-spanking new asphalt, rebuild the sidewalk, install brand new LED lighting and plant more street trees, would you fight it?
Perhaps surprisingly, that’s what a vocal minority of residents along Point Grey Road on Vancouver’s west side continue to do, even as a project to improve the road for cyclists and pedestrians nears completion.
The Seaside Greenway completion project aims to “improve walking and cycling routes between Jericho Beach Park and Burrard Bridge” and “complete the Seaside Greenway to create safe and comfortable connections.” The upgrade project cost $6.4 million and will be complete by the end of summer 2017.
The city says that once complete, pedestrians and cyclists will be able to enjoy a safe and comfortable 28-kilometre walking and cycling route along one of the city’s most scenic routes, beginning at the Vancouver Convention Centre and ending at Spanish Banks.
Improvements to Point Grey Road
- North sidewalks widened to three metres
- Boulevards between street and sidewalk are 1.4 – 2.7 metres wide to help improve sightlines
- Cyclists will ride in the road like on other residential bike routes
- 40 additional trees planted to enhance green space
- New LED lighting installed
- Parking maintained on south side of Point Grey Road
- Road has consistent width from Tatlow Park to Alma Street
Despite the aesthetic and usability improvements, several homes are displaying large protest signs on their front lawns, expressing outrage about the money being spent to beautify their street from what they call an “out-of-control” city hall.
The city has gone to great lengths to route the new, wider sidewalk around existing mature trees in front of homes. In several spots, landscaping was removed but it had been planted outside property lines and on city property.
When complete, the upgraded street will be the envy of the rest of the city, with its wide sidewalks, brand-new road surface, plenty of street trees, new LED lighting and traffic calming. The upgrades are improvements most Vancouver taxpayers can only dream of — as they struggle to get a buckled sidewalk repaired or a pothole filled.
Point Grey Road used to be a busy commuter route between downtown Vancouver and UBC, with thousands of cars using the route daily to avoid traffic on West 4th and Broadway. Now it’s a low-traffic street, which improved property values and quality of life.
It begs the question, what are the vocal minority of naysayers really concerned about? Is it really the cost of the upgrades, or is it the hundreds of cyclists and pedestrians now passing by? Would these homeowners prefer a seawall along the waterfront in front of their properties (and their views)?
There’s no shortage of issues city hall deserves criticism for, but an improved cycling and pedestrian route in one of Vancouver’s most spectacular settings isn’t one of them.