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Vancouver mayor recuses himself from bike lane debate

Robertson seeks to avoid conflict of interest after buying house near proposed bike corridor

Mayor Gregor Robertson will not vote this month on whether the city should proceed with cycling and pedestrian upgrades along the Cornwall-Point Grey corridor.

That's because Robertson recently purchased a new home in Kitsilano within a block of York Street and wants to erase any doubt that he could be in a conflict over the upgrades.

"In recent weeks, the mayor apprised senior staff, including the city solicitor, of this property transaction and they were requested to provide advice and a legal opinion on any possible conflict that the mayor might be in with regard to future decisions of council related to the Point Grey-Cornwall bike corridor," said a statement issued by the mayor's office Wednesday. "The city solicitor has informed the mayor that there is no legal conflict with voting on matters related to the Point Grey-Cornwall bike and pedestrian safety upgrades at this time. However, out of an abundance of caution, the mayor informed the city solicitor that he will be recusing himself from voting on the upcoming Point Grey-Cornwall project. The city solicitor will review the final staff report on the project and provide any further advice to the mayor on this matter as required."

The mayor's office issued the statement after a blogger posted information and a link to a realty company's site that revealed Robertson's house, near 25th and Oak, was for sale.

The statement said the mayor is selling his house, which is listed for $1.9 million, because his family is downsizing now that his children have graduated from high school.

Council is expected to vote later this month on cycling and pedestrian upgrades for the Point Grey-Cornwall corridor. Documents on the city's website show potential upgrades running from the Burrard Bridge to Jericho Beach and include a combination of separated bike lanes, wider sidewalks, street closures and removal of on-street parking spots.

The city hasn't set a date for the vote, although it is anticipated for the week of July 22. The plan has been divisive and included heated public meetings and street protests.

One group, which includes former city councillor Peter Ladner, favours a city-designed option that would mean significant upgrades for cyclists and pedestrians from Alma to Macdonald streets, along Point Grey Road.

Other residents have called for the vote to be delayed and were to hold protests in the afternoon rush Wednesday and Thursday on Point Grey Road.