At last night’s Vancouver Parks Board meeting, the Vision Vancouver majority withdrew their plans to put an ashphalt bike lane through Hadden Park. This after months of controversy, mass meetings and, finally, a law suit that halted construction.
“We’ve heard clearly from the public that there is significant concern with any proposed changes to Hadden Park,” park board chair Niki Sharma said in a statement. That’s stretching credulity to the limit because the loud public concerns were expressed before Sharma and her crew made the original decision to proceed with the damaging plans. What really tipped the balance was a calculation that they couldn’t win the court case launched by residents.
As a statement from the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods said last night, it is necessary
to point out that meaningful community engagement before the original decision was made in this case would have prevented the expense, inconvenience, and embarrassment of a court challenge. Along with the changes to the STIR program brought about by the legal challenge launched by West End Neighbours, it seems that City Hall is only willing to act on residents’ concerns when required to do so by court intervention.
The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods can only hope that our elected representatives quickly change tack and begin to listen to residents instead of judges.
Bravo to the local residents who stood up to the Parks Board, showed up in numbers to protest, and helped fund and manage the lawsuit that finally stopped work that most neighbours clearly did not want. The Hadden Park case, the STIR law suit, and the delays and amendments forced on the Marpole and Grandview-Woodland Community Plans show that people power really can make a difference even against a Council majority as disengaged and obdurate as the one we have in Vancouver today.
There are just 269 days left before the next municipal election.