Drivers and pedestrians heading along Marine Drive at Park Royal this week noticed construction crews tearing out the median, along with the chain link fence, trees and shrubs.
The move has rankled and confused some West Vancouver residents.
“I feel nauseated by the sight of it,” said Janice Burnett in a letter sent to District of West Vancouver council. “All these trees being removed, after only being planted a short few years ago.”
It may be unsightly right now, but the work is necessary, says Rick Amantea, vice-president of Park Royal.
New turn lanes, bus pullouts, sidewalks and streetlights, bike paths, parking lot improvements and a new intersection of Marine Drive and Park Royal are all in the works between now and the end of fall.
While it may irritate some now, the results will prove themselves worth in time, Amantea said.
“In my view, and from all of the drawings and renderings that have been presented to people like the design review committee, it should be a much more warm and significantly improved, upgraded feel for Marine Drive going forward,” he said. “This whole feeling of West Vancouver being a six-lane freeway will be diminished, and it’s going to be a much more inviting look, a much softer feel still allowing traffic to move a the pace it does today.”
The chain link fence is due to be replaced with a more aesthetically pleasing one, and while 99 trees are scheduled to be removed, the mall’s management plans to plant 199 more trees this fall.
“We’re actually doubling the amount of trees on our property,” he said.
This will be the biggest change residents will notice until crews remove the overpass and replace it with an at-grade intersection in August, Amantea said.
That planned change has also proven controversial, with critics saying it will lead to more traffic on the already choked thoroughfare. TransLink, the District of West Vancouver, the Squamish Nation and the Ministry of Transportation have all signed off on the project.