Judge closes restaurant trial on Vancouver bike path
The owners of the Teahouse, the Stanley Park Pavilion and the Prospect Point Bar and Grill have taken the Vancouver Park Board to court over its decision to convert a road in Stanley Park to a bicycle path.
A British Columbia Supreme Court has dismissed a judicial review filed by a group of Stanley Park conservators who challenged the City of Vancouver’s decision to convert a major artery in the park to a dedicated bike path.
The judgment, released earlier this week, pitted the owners of the Teahouse, Stanley Park Pavilion and Prospect Point Bar and Grill against the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation.
The group of restaurateurs had sought judicial review of a park council resolution to convert Park Drive, which bypasses Stanley Park, to a cycle path.
The restorers argued that the designation of the route as a permanent cycle path to reduce carbon emissions and appease a public opinion poll was carried out using “clear logical errors, such as circular reasoning, false dilemmas , unfounded generalizations or an absurd premise “.
RESPONSE TO A PANDEMIC IN A CHANGING CITY
In her ruling, Justice Sheila Tucker examined the evolution of Vancouver’s climate change policies leading up to the park council’s March 10 decision.
As of January 2019, the city declared a climate emergency and passed a number of resolutions to reduce emissions. City council would soon approve ‘big moves’ to cut carbon emissions by moving away from gasoline vehicles and heading towards a 2030 target where two-thirds of all trips in the city would be made on foot, to bicycle or public transport.
Then the coronavirus hit. On March 11, the World Health Organization declared the spread of COVID-19 a pandemic, and within a week, the BC provincial health worker followed suit.
The park council responded by opening up the city to places where it could help people physically distance themselves. On April 8, he banned Park Drive from vehicle traffic and converted it to a separate bike path from the Stanley Park seawall.
In early summer, the park council launched a study to reduce car traffic inside Stanley Park permanently. In the motion, the park’s board said it had received comments from the public that fewer vehicles made the visit more “park-like.” According to the motion, leaving the eastbound lane along Beach Avenue to cyclists and pedestrians further reduced traffic and access to Stanley Park.
A year later, the park council reopened one lane for motor vehicles, the other remaining a bicycle lane. Meanwhile, a Stanley Park mobility study was underway, assessing public opinion on one and two lane bike lanes.
Of the nearly 11,000 respondents, 66 percent said they wanted a section of the road reserved for cyclists. Another 71 percent said their experience was better or no different with the two-lane cyclists, and 51 percent said the same about the one-lane rider diet. Only 36 percent said they wanted Park Drive to remain a right-of-way for motor traffic.
At one point in the process, the park council received more than 750 letters – including from restaurateurs – ranging from passionately for and vehemently against the proposal to limit Park Drive to bicycle traffic.
In court submissions, restaurateurs rejected Stanley Park’s investigation, saying it was not a representative sample.
REDUCE EMISSIONS, ‘UNREASONABLE’ PUBLIC INVESTIGATION
Incorporated under Ferguson Point Restaurants Inc. and Stanley Park Operations Ltd., the restaurant owners argued that the park council adopted the bike path based on the city’s need to reduce carbon emissions and the results of the public poll. from Stanley Park. Neither, the petitioners said, were reasonable grounds for the decision.
The park’s board, they added, acted under the “almost certainly false” assumption that the bike path would reduce carbon emissions. In fact, they told the court, the bike path would lead to an increase in traffic jams and vehicle idling along Park Drive, while other park users would increase emissions by driving further into the parks. accessible to cars.
They also alleged that it was unreasonable to rely on the results of the public inquiry as they were flawed and inadequate. The owners said the park council had not taken into account the negative effects on the cycle path, such as reduced access for people with reduced mobility, young children and sports clubs; reduction in municipal revenues; increased pressure on other parks; and the impacts on businesses in the park, such as theirs.
But the judge considered that the restaurateurs’ argument was an oversimplification: reducing carbon emissions and considering the results of a public inquiry only “set the scene for the debate” which weighed on a number of factors, from l The impact of emissions from gasoline and diesel vehicles on climate change to encourage cycling for health and safety reasons.
“Resolution is a small exploratory component in a large-scale political response to a social dilemma, not an operational solution to emissions volumes,” Tucker wrote.
She added: “A decision doesn’t have to be flawless to be reasonable. “