Residents decry loss of trees for Lynn Canyon parking lot

Residents who live along Lynn Canyon Park are pushing back at the District of North Vancouver’s $1.95-million plans to remove trees, pave and expand the parking lot.

The district began taking bids last month for contractors to chop down 74 trees around the upper lot and add paving and painted lines and stalls as well as concrete curbs to increase safety for visitors who currently walk amidst vehicle traffic. A total of 33 new spots would be added.

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But neighbours say the trees along the west side parking lot provide a critical buffer from the noise, dust and heat emanating from parking lot. Their residential street already gets used as a de facto overflow parking lot/change room/beer hall, meaning residents on the street are getting it in stereo, said Rob Zylstra.

“Alarms are going off. Kids are crying. There is a lot of that stuff,” he said. “We need some reprieve from that.”

The district is pledging to replace any trees that are removed at a ratio of 4:1. An arborist report commissioned by the district determined most of the trees along the residents’ fence line were in moderate or poor condition. The Zylstras spent $1,200 hiring another arborist to get a second opinion. That report listed most of the trees along the property line as being in average to good condition. “So there is no reason to bring them down,” said Corey Zylstra.

Corey added she was frustrated the district hadn’t acted on any other ideas they suggested, including increasing transit service to the park, making better use of the upper portion of Ross Road for parking, or directing more people to park in the lot on Lillooet Road on the other side of the canyon.

“The district are supposed to be stewards of our community and stewards of our park and they’re talking about mowing down beautiful old trees to put in increased parking spaces. That doesn’t seem like a very environmentally sensitive way to deal with parking restrictions,” she said. “Leave these buffer trees so when users come into the park, it will feel like a park experience and won’t expose park visitors to all the housing and the residents behind.”

While the Zylstras question the logic of the district’s approach, other Robinson Road residents are outright opposed to any changes being made on environmental grounds. Even with trees being replaced at a 4:1 ratio, it will take years for them to reach maturity, said Bill Hughes.

“We’re already in a climate emergency right now,” he said. “They’re paving paradise and putting up a parking lot.

Hughes said the decision to pave and expand the lot was made without any consultation with the neighbours, which he said now seems customary for the district.

In a statement, district staff pledged to continue working with Robinson Road residents. The two sides had arranged to meet on Sept. 24 after the North Shore News’ deadline.

“We have had discussions with the residents in the past and are aware of the points they have raised. Our priority is to ensure the central entrance area is safe for all users. Managing safe pedestrian and vehicle access into the park is one of the biggest challenges with the current park design,” said district spokeswoman Courtenay Rannard.

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