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The Globe and Mail

Vancouver seeks feedback on west side pathway

A woman jogs along the seawall near where it ends west of Kitsilano Beach in Vancouver, B.C., on Thursday May 16, 2013.

DARRYL DYCK/The Globe and Mail

After community backlash put a seawall expansion to Vancouver's west side on hold, the city is moving forward with alternative plans to create a safer pathway for pedestrians and cyclists linking the Burrard Street Bridge to Jericho Beach.

The city will host three open houses starting next week to display design proposals and field questions from the public on the project, which aims to promote "human-powered transportation" such as cycling and jogging along the Point Grey Road-Cornwall Avenue corridor.

Jerry Dobrovolny, the city's director of transportation, would not provide details.

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He did, however, say the city has one recommended option – "with two choices in one section" – on which it will seek feedback until June 10.

"Our goal is to go to council in early July with the results … and if council approves the project, then we would do some final design work and look at beginning construction late in the year."

The busy pathway has been deemed dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians due to high traffic volume, speeding vehicles and narrow sidewalks. Improving it was identified as a priority in the city's Transportation 2040 plan, approved by council last October.

At "phase one" open houses in January and February, city staff heard the public's concerns about vehicle speed, the potential impact on trips by car and the area's uncomfortable walking environment, Mr. Dobrovolny said.

Options included separated bike lanes and rerouting traffic to West 4th Avenue.

An average of 13,000 vehicles travel along Point Grey Road every day; Cornwall Avenue has an average of 30,000.

A proposal to expand Vancouver's seawall to connect Jericho and Kitsilano beaches was put on the backburner last year after vocal opposition. Among the concerns were environmental degradation, cost and property right-of-way. Some resented the fact that diverting car traffic away from the expensive homes in the area would boost their property value; others said they wanted to preserve the beaches' natural settings.

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Vancouver Park Board chair Sarah Blyth said she hopes to move forward with the seawall expansion as a long-term project. The issue is a lack of connectivity in waterfront pathways between the two beaches, said Ms. Blyth, noting a less intrusive walkway might be an option.

"It would make sense to see what happens with the corridor and see if there's anything that could fit in along the way," she said.

The open houses take place May 23, 25 and 27.

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