The District of North Vancouver is walking back the number of trees to be cut and parking stalls to be added to Lynn Canyon Park’s west parking lot, but proceeding with plans to pave the lot.
The district announced plans in August to add painted lines and stalls, concrete curbs, a staging area for visiting school buses and better pedestrian paths and wayfinding to address safety concerns. Along with that, 74 trees would have been removed and 33 new stalls would be added, bringing the total to 143.
But neighbours along Robinson Road pushed back at the plan to remove the mature trees that act as a buffer between their yards and the parking lot. They hired their own arborist who produced a report stating the trees were in better condition than the district’s arborist assessed them at.
After meeting with the residents, district staff have changed the plan to maintain the buffer, retaining 22 more trees and adding just seven stalls.
Robinson Road resident Rob Zylstra said the final design is an improvement but still by no means perfect.
"For the most part, it seems that the district council and park designers are now listening to what we are saying. It would have been nice to have been contacted early on to be a part of the process, rather than initiating it myself," he said. "There are still healthy trees out there that they plan to take down for cars. I don't think that's right when we are all trying to be more environmentally conscious."
The changes maintain the safety improvements the district had in mind at the project’s outset, according to district staff.
“The high summer volume really does create congestion in the central area and when people drive into the park, they are often unsure where to go, where to drive there. It creates backups with the roadways, and circulation for cars is quite poorly defined,” said Susan Rogers, section manager for parks and planning, at a recent meeting of council’s committee of the whole. “With no dedicated pedestrian and cycling routes, during busy times, the rangers are constantly reporting they’ve witnessed near accidents with pedestrians, cyclists and dogs. We have multiple complaints of vehicles speeding down Peters Road into the park and within the park roadways themselves.”
Mayor Mike Little thanked district staff for coming up with the compromise after news of the plan to remove 74 trees spread.
“Immediately, there was a response from the community and concern, and we all want to be good stewards of this gem, our public parks system, so I do appreciate the efforts you’ve made to reduce the impact on the tree canopy,” he said at the committee meeting.
After an audit from the district’s advisory committee on disability issues, Little added he was shocked to see how hard the park is to access for a person in a wheelchair.
District staff are expected to award the contract for the work in the coming weeks.
When the project is complete in 2020, the district is planning to replant 200 more trees within the park.