10 June 2020

For the Record: My Comments on 'Exploring Options to Reduce Motor Vehicle Traffic in Stanley Park'

These are my comments from the debate on the motion presented Monday night. Much of it comes from my earlier postion 'Accessible Spaces for Everyone' below. You can watch/listen to my comments here.

Thank you, Chair Dumont,

Change is difficult. I understand that. When one-way streets were introduced some thought traffic would grind to a halt. When traffic calming measures were introduced some thought they wouldn’t be able to access their neighbourhood. When angle parking was replaced with parallel parking some thought business would stop. People generally don’t like change. 

As we reopen our parks and recreation facilities, I believe this is a good time to exam our policies on accessibility. Despite what you may have heard or read, this motion is not asking for a ban on cars in Stanley Park. On the contrary, automobile access to the park is just one of the many ways individuals and groups access the park and must be able to continue to do so.

However, as Stanley Park has become more popular, I believe it is time that we looked at who has access and how they do it. I am not at all sure that as it stands the park is easily accessible for all, including those without their own vehicle or those with disabilities or mobility difficulties. I think a complete review of accessibility to and within the park should be examined.

The motion asks that our staff consider alternatives to what is in place now. They may come back with recommendations to pedestrian or bicycle access. They may come back with recommendations that automobile access be changed. They may recommend improved public transit within the park. They may recommend something else completely. Or they may conclude saying no changes are necessary at all. 

The motion asks for consultation, which would include the Stanley Park Intergovernmental Working Group. It would include park partners, stakeholders and the community at large. It would include the City of Vancouver's Persons with Disabilities Advisory Committee. I'm sure it would include the Seniors Committee, the Womens Committee, and the other advisory committees of the city. 

I believe it would include the Active Transportation community; the residents of the West End who could be impacted by any changes. It would certainly include the businesses both within the park, and those that could be impacted by changes that are outside of the park. And it would include the public at-large. 

What the motion does not do is prescribe any changes to access.

Just because we have done something for a long time doesn't mean there isn't room for improvement. For me what this motion is about is asking “how can we improve access to Stanley Park for everyone?

Access for everyone is an equity issue. Our new VanPlay master plan for parks and recreation has equity as one of its key foundational statements. This motion fits within this mandate. 

Thank you.

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