“The truth about a city’s aspirations isn’t found in its vision,” says Brent Toderian. “It’s found in its budget.”
“Budgets,” confirms Sam Sullivan, “are the sincerest form of rhetoric.”
So when it comes to the priority that the Parks Board places on cycling, don’t bother with its plans or the commissioners’ affirmations. Look to its capital plan, where you will find … almost nothing.
Here’s the 2019-22 capital plan. Check page 36 for the Parks Board, where you will find in the chart $2.4 million for “skate &bike facilities/tracks” – a pittance in the scheme of things. By comparison, the City will spend $3 million just for the Bute greenway and Helmcken-Comox greenway extension.
The highest priority, of course, should be the upgrading of congested and unsafe routes, and the need to connect with the City’s bike network that funnels tens of thousands of cyclists into the conflicted spaces of existing parks, especially Kitsilano and Jericho. Instead, on the priority list for improved routes, the Parks Board has only Park Lane (1 on the map below). It isn’t even within Stanley Park, just on the eastern boundary under PB jurisdiction. It is a route designed to skirt the park, rather than enter it.
When Park Board staff are asked why there isn’t any money specified in the new capital plan for Stanley Park, they respond that funds have already been approved. It just needs political will and clear directions from the board – and that hasn’t happened.
On the map above, you can see the results: ambitious plans and projects – everywhere but in the green parts, the parks. The bike network, the separated routes, the system safe for 8 to 80-year-olds, it basically ends where we want to encourage people to get to and through without driving.
How does the Parks Board get away with this?
City/Park Board interface at Jericho Park
So what should be the priority commitments? Here’s a list:
1) Kits Beach park from the north end of Arbutus to Balsam – a civic embarrassment and a gap in the Seaside Greenway
2) Stanley Park, with a prioritized list from the items identified in the approved and budgeted plan
3) Jericho Park from Point Grey Road west, along or near the beach
Within Stanley Park:
1) The Coal Harbor entrance hub, with signage and marked paths (which are already paved but do not permit bikes) to Park Drive and the Causeway protected paths
2) The path above the seawall, from Beach Ave to Ceperley Park, with sufficient space, and separation for people walking and people on bikes
3) A protected bi-directional path on Pipeline Road from Burrard Inlet to the Coal Harbour entrance hub, providing a return route from the eastern section of the Seawall path, and relieving congestion on the Seawall path to the west