After 109 years, North Vancouver’s Green Necklace is one step from making ends meet.
Council voted to fund the next-to-last-leg of the seven-kilometre walking/cycling loop around Central Lonsdale Monday, but not everyone was seeing green.
“It’s a strip of tarmacadam around the city, there’s nothing green about it,” said Coun. Rod Clark, adding he’d once dubbed the loop “the black necklace.”
The newest stretch of paved trail is slated to stretch 2.1 kilometres along East Keith Road to Grand Boulevard and north to 19th Street. However, the bike trails would be better suited to Ridgeway, Sutherland, or Moody Avenues, according to Clark, who said Grand Boulevard “has served the city extremely well just the way it is.”
Besides paving the pedestrian trail down the centre of Grand Boulevard, the plan includes two single-direction cycle paths along the park’s perimeter.
“What’s multi-modal about putting three strips of tarmacadam down Grand Boulevard; two on either side for exclusive use of bicycles, one north and one south?” Clark asked, adding he was dubious about the city’s ability to enforce the single-direction lanes.
The Green Necklace is essential for allowing North Vancouverites to travel freely and easily around the heart of their city, responded Mayor Darrell Mussatto.
“If we don’t give (commuters) alternatives they will continue to use their automobiles, so we have to give them proper, logical alternatives,” Mussatto said.
After initially resisting the Green Necklace, the public is now clamouring for it, according to Coun. Craig Keating.
“People want multi-modal trails where they can have bikes and strollers and wheelchairs,” he said.
The city has now allocated $2.3 million to continue work on the Green Necklace, as well as $200,000 already spent for planning and design. City staff expect the municipality to receive $382,700 in funding from TransLink for the project.
The $2.5-million price tag is too steep, according to Coun. Pam Bookham, who also criticized the selection of Grand Boulevard.
“Maybe it’s not the best thing to put cyclists, pedestrians, trucks and cars all in the same corridor,” she said.
“Anyone who has been on this particular route at rush hour – which is increasingly longer – knows that there exists already a huge challenge, and that’s without removing any parking.”
City staff promised to retain as many parking spots as possible. The plan also includes improved street lighting at each intersection.
While she was initially opposed to the trail system, Coun. Holly Back lauded the Green Necklace, particularly the decision to pave the centre of Grand Boulevard, which she said would allow easy passage for people in wheelchairs and parents pushing strollers.
“I think that we’ve started the project and we should take it to completion,” Back said.
The motion to fund the Green Necklace passed 5-2, with Couns. Clark and Bookham opposed.
After first being envisioned in North Vancouver’s 1907 town plan, the first segment of the Green Necklace along Keith Road was finished in 2005.
Coun. Craig Keating was nearly two hours late for the meeting, but arrived just in time to debate the Green Necklace.