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Kits Beach bike path a done deal

Consultation inadequate, says KitsFest organizer
James Goodman and Garry Wolfater
Kits residents James Goodman (left) and Garry Wolfater at Kits Point where painted white lines allegedly mark where a controversial paved biking path will be installed.

A Vision Vancouver park board commissioner says a controversial 12-foot wide paved bike path for Hadden and Kits Beach parks is a done deal.

The $2.2 million path, approved by the park board Oct. 7,  will run from Hadden Park along Kits Beach and west to the outdoor pool.

“The process was solid and the results were positive,” said Vision Vancouver park board vice-chair Aaron Jasper.

“As part of the public consultation [staff] went down and spoke with nearly 400 people, which is above and beyond anything they’ve done before.”

Jasper said while the board would be willing to meet with residents, stakeholders and beach users to talk about their concerns, the bike path will go ahead. On Friday the route for the bike lane was mapped out using white paint.

“To be clear,” said Jasper, “this decision will not be reversed.”

KitsFest cofounder and two time Olympian Howard Kelsey disagrees the public consultation was thorough. Kelsey noted many of the stakeholders affected by this bike path were in attendance at a special ceremony Sept. 29 for the official park board opening of 10 tennis courts they helped pay for.

“We were right there and no one said a word to any of us,” said Kelsey, who chairs Canada One Athletic Foundation and is executive vice-president of Canada Basketball. “We were completely blindsided.”

Kelsey, speaking on behalf of more than 3,000 basketball, tennis and volleyball users, said he only knows of one regular beach user who was approached to take part in the survey, which included 370 beach users.

He is concerned cyclists will naturally pick up speed as they come down the slope near the caretaker’s house at the north end of Arbutus to where thousands of beach users converge on sunny days. He noted the bike path will run directly adjacent to an accessible playground on one side and the busy basketball courts on the other, which he said creates a dangerous situation.

Jasper said the park board consulted with both the city’s persons with disabilities and seniors advisory committees prior to mapping out the bike route.

In an Oct. 11 email to the Courier, Kelsey wrote in part, “We totally support bike lanes — not just this ridiculous paved route through green space… Our thousands of sports and community–related constituents tell us that a GRAVE error is being made by our elected park board/city officials — on several levels.”

Kelsey and others want to meet with the park board to discuss creating a bike path along the roads bounding Hadden and Kits Beach parks.

Kits resident James Goodman is concerned because the route cuts through a family picnic area  

“First I would declare that I am fully in favour of a separated bike path around Kits Beach Park,” said Goodman, who emailed the Courier photos of paint marks through Kits Beach Park.

“I do not support the unnecessary routing and the demolition of the heavily used family picnic area on the slope at the north end of the park as you can see by the white line markings in the photos attached.”

Goodman wants the route of the path changed to have less impact on park green space and to be safer.

“If any park commissioner would visit this park on a busy summer weekend it would be obvious that to demolish this area for a high speed bike route (yes it is on a slope so bikes go faster down hill) is totally disrespectful of the families who use this area.”