Opponents of the 32nd Avenue Cycling Connector in Aldergrove will get the public forum they wanted.
Township council made the decision Monday night after Aldergrove resident Wade Rayner presented a 140-name petition that asked council to agree to continue the stop work order currently in place and hold a public forum “to allow the voices of the taxpayers and voters that will be directly affected to be heard.”
Rayner had requested to speak at council’s June 25 meeting but submitted his request too late.
At the time, at the suggestion of councillor Bob Long, further work on the project was suspended until Rayner could be heard at the July 11 council meeting.
The 32nd Avenue connector is meant to be part of a regional cycling corridor that connects Surrey, Langley City, Langley Township and Abbotsford.
The Aldergrove project is designed to allow cyclists to divert from the busy Fraser Highway by using 32 Avenue from Station Road to Highway 13.
When notification to residents was sent out in June, the news that public parking on the north side of 32 Avenue would be eliminated for a cycling lane produced a public outcry and led to the petition drive.
“We are specifically opposed to the significant loss of the on-street parking spaces in front of our homes,” Rayner told council.
“We feel that there was a lack of public consultation.”
HUB Cycling’s Langley committee chair Dan Millsip defended the project at the same Monday night meeting.
“The parking (on 32) is not nearly utilized to capacity,” Millsip said, citing Township figures that show 11 per cent to 19 per cent of 32 Avenue is used for parking at any given time.
Millsip said parking doesn’t get hard to find until an 85 per cent level of use is reached.
“We are well below that threshold,” Millsip said.
A suggestion that the road could be designated as “bike-friendly” by putting up share-the road-signs rather than giving bikes their own lanes would not work, Millsip said, citing studies that show such programs are not effective.
Mayor Jack Froese didn’t see the need for another public forum, because the Township has already held several stakeholder meetings (in January 2011, January 2012 and April 2013) on the project.
“We’ve had the input,” Froese said.
Councillor Kim Richter said residents should get the forum they asked for because the parking issue didn’t come up at the previous meetings.
“There was nothing in the (proposed) plan that specified loss of parking,” Richter said.
The vote was five-to-four in favour of a new public forum, with councillors Kim Richter, Charlie Fox, Michelle Sparrow, David Davis and Bob Long supporting the forum while mayor Jack Froese and councillors Petrina Arnason, Blair Whitmarsh and Angie Quaale were against.
No date or location for the forum has been set yet.
Millsip said HUB Cycling was “disappointed” by the decision to hold another public forum, but understands the residents’ concerns about parking and thinks the issue can be resolved.
“We want to make it work,” Millsip said.
“We do get where they’re (residents) coming from.”
HUB will participate in the forum, whenever it is held, Millsip added.