Metro column: Very different spirits arising over the same trail

16 March 2009

It’s nice to see the growing focus on pedestrian and cycling greenways and trails in Metro Vancouver these days. Local governments are finally responding to demand for transportation choices that are easier on our wallets, and better for our health and environment.

A good example is the North Shore Spirit Trail, a 35-kilometre pathway connecting Horseshoe Bay to Deep Cove.

For walking and biking enthusiasts from across the Lower Mainland, the trail promises to be a recreational jewel.

Its completion is at least a couple of years away, but some stretches of this new corridor are already finished.

An impressive section was recently opened by the City of North Vancouver and the Squamish Nation, just west of Lonsdale Quay.

North Vancouver Mayor Darrell Mussatto told me his jurisdiction has given the project high priority.

“It works extremely well with our new transportation strategy that puts transit, cycling and pedestrians before single-occupant vehicles,” he said.

He also makes it clear that successes to date are the result of well-meaning collaboration.

“The secret to working with partners is to respect each others’ timelines,” he said. “In this case we established a great relationship with the Squamish First Nations.”

This is in stark contrast to what’s happening elsewhere along the Spirit Trail.

In West Vancouver, for example, the project came to a halt last summer when a small but vocal group of residents took issue with the routing — said to come too close to their homes.

Fortunately, West Vancouver civic leaders have been able to move forward with another section of the trail. But their earlier struggle begs the questions: Will they ever make progress in the face of constant opposition from “concerned citizens?”

And will this greenway ever reach either Horseshoe Bay or Deep Cove?

Perhaps the defiant Nimbies could learn something from the Squamish Nation community about the kind of give-and-take that makes for good neighbours.

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Filed under Cycling, Environment, Green Space, Health, Neighbourhoods, Nimbies, Transportation, Urban Planning

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