The District of North Vancouver is looking to make some major updates to the Lynn Canyon Park parking lot and entrance.
The municipality is currently accepting bids on a $1.95-million project that will see the existing gravel lot expanded and paved with asphalt.
Upgrading the 1960s era parking lot has been on the district’s to-do list since the previous council did a masterplan for the park, but funding wasn’t put in place until the 2019 budget.
The primary need for the change is to make it safer, said Gavin Joyce, general manager of engineering, parks and facilities for the district.
“We have a lot of mixing of pedestrians now with moving vehicles. We also can’t designate areas for disability spaces or oversize vehicles. So it will help with the overall flow and management and near misses,” he said.
The 250-hectare park gets about one million visitors per year. That can mean upwards of 1,500 drivers looking for a place to park per day, added Susan Rogers, section manager for parks and planning.
“On a busy Saturday, it can be really quite crazy,” she said. “The suspension bridge is such a vast regional attractor now. We don’t see this just being a trend. It’s a unique facility and in combination with the ecology centre, I think we’re going to continue to see it being used heavily. We’re trying to anticipate a little bit of what the future is looking like and how we can improve the overall safety and circulation of a very tight area,” she said.
The expansion will add 33 new parking spots, bringing the total to 143. And unlike the current lot, the new one will have painted lines, painted stalls, concrete curbs, a staging area for visiting school buses and better pedestrian paths and wayfinding.
The work will require the removal of 74 trees, though the district is committed to replacing them at a 4:1 ratio, Joyce said, and he stressed the trees would likely have been removed even without adding new parking stalls.
Of the trees to be removed, an arborist assessed about 80 per cent of them as being in poor to moderate condition. They would eventually have to be removed before they became hazard trees, Rogers added.
Despite switching to an impermeable surface, the upgraded parking lot will have better stormwater management than the current one, which is prone to flooding during the heavy winter storms, Joyce said.
“We’re fully aware that the environmental side is key to this, given what we’re doing. We look to improve on that overall for the project,” he said.
The district consulted with homeowners along Robinson Road before settling on the final designs.
“Based on their feedback, we revised the parking lot and reduced the number of stalls in order to facilitate a wider buffer between the rear of their properties and the park,” Rogers said.
Like a lot of parks in the region, Lynn Canyon has been struggling with “overuse,” Joyce said. The parking lot is typically full by 11 a.m. The district has banned commercial buses from parking at the site and overflow parking on the local streets may be next, Joyce warned.
“We’ve actually moved to look at restricting on-street parking outside of the park area. It’s something we’re struggling with down in Deep Cove as well,” he said.
Council is expected to review potential contractors’ bids in September and before a contract is awarded, Joyce said. When the work begins and how long it takes will be determined by the wining bidder’s plans, but Rogers added they will aim to have the work done in a shoulder season and have it completed before peak season arrives in 2020.