Let’s jump right in:
When finished, it will be nine kilometres of wide, smooth-surfaced path flanked by gravel and trees, blessed with perfect sight lines and ideal for swift riding. But it’s far from everyone’s idea of what a green space should look like — even a temporary one. It’s also well out of step with current trends in landscape architecture, experts say. Though there are competing philosophies over parkland, wilder environments — rather than manicured spaces — are in vogue.
Mark Battersby lives a few blocks from the greenway, which the city bought from the Canadian Pacific Railway a few months ago. When the city began to pour asphalt where the railway tracks once lay, the image that came to Battersby’s mind was of “a bike freeway.”
“We had in mind something that would be much more attractive to walkers and children,” he said.
Battersby, displeased with what he saw, produced a simple video slide show using before and after photos of the greenway:
Maureen Ryan, who also lives near the greenway, shares their concern. Ryan does want to see cyclists in the corridor, but on a crushed-stone surface rather than a paved path, to limit cycling speeds.
“We had a beautiful, beautiful green space,” said Ryan, who is a member of a coalition calling itself the Concerned Residents and Corridor User Group. “What we would like is a surface for bikes and wheelchairs that is, in fact, green.”
It’s definitely the shock of the new:
And it’s another no-win for the City, no matter what they do or don’t.
Do something too quick, and there’s usual criticism of fait accompli. (So ironic, since the default criticism of government is usually its lassitude.) Propose an extensive consultation process, and the criticism is that City Hall is disingenuous.
Do nothing, and there would be complaints about its inaccessibility for the disabled (and look what they achieved with TransLink’s faregates). Do the absolute minimum and the criticism would be the failure to meet minimum standards. Do something too expensive, and the criticism would be spending too much on something explicitly meant to be temporary.
The easiest criticism is the lack of consultation. For those who believe ‘consultation’ means only process, not outcome, it’s an effective delaying mechanism to retain the status quo. For those who want change, consultation can be used to reject every alternative than the one they want. The perfect is the enemy of the merely good.
If Kits Point is the precedent, then once again, long-time residents of a certain age will be fighting to keep things pretty much the same. Only this time, the City was clear that Arbutus is a transportation corridor, and any design has to be for All Ages and Abilities. For the moment, that’s what we’re getting.