Township council has voted to hold off on the 32nd Avenue Cycling Connector until an opponent of the project can be heard at council’s July 11 meeting.
The work was to begin after the Canada Day weekend and would have continued over the summer months. However, only the removal of the painted centre line has been done up to this time.
Aldergrove resident Wade Rayner had requested to speak at council’s June 25 meeting but submitted his request too late. However, at the suggestion of councillor Bob Long, further work on the project will be suspended until Rayner can be heard at the July 11 council meeting.
Notification to residents was sent out in June and had sparked a considerable outcry about the planned removal of public parking on the north side of 32 Avenue. A petition against the project has also been circulating among the residents.
Coun. Long had also moved that in cases when substantial amounts of public parking were being removed there should be improved notification in the process. He said there had been memos circulated within the Township about the project but he had wrongly presumed that the lost parking would only be temporary while the work was being done.
Coun. Long told The Star that he felt council and staff were “blindsided” by the realization that all of 32 Avenue’s street parking on the north side would be lost in creation of the cycling lanes on both sides of the street.
At a meeting called by Rayner on Monday at Parkside School, he told the small crowd that he was not going to debate whether the planned bike lanes were a good or bad idea but rather ask council to reopen the issue for a public discussion.
“We haven’t had an opportunity to discuss this, it’s all been closed meetings,” said Rayner, noting that when the speed bumps and traffic calming was first proposed the Township held public information meetings at Parkside so that everyone knew what was proposed and could express their opinions.
“It’s a two and half kilometer stretch of road and there will be 146 parking spots lost. Yet no one here has seen a photo or diagram of what’s planned,” said Rayner. “A public forum is needed.”
HUB Cycling’s Langley committee chair Dan Millsip was also present and he said from “a cyclist’s perspective we began this process five years ago to address the huge problems in creating the cycling network, especially in Aldergrove and Langley City. The bike lane on 32nd Avenue was selected because there isn’t another option, Fraser Highway through Aldergrove is too narrow and redevelopment of that stretch is years down the road.”
Millsip said the bike lane diversion along 32 Avenue connects to bike lanes in both Abbotsford and Langley Township, and would provide safe route that meet current standards.
However, Coun. Long questioned the need for cycling lanes on 32 Avenue, as the vehicular traffic has been significantly “calmed” by the speed bumps installed in front of the elementary school and public park.
“My feeling is it’s not warranted at this time and should be suspended until the area densifies more,” Coun. Long said. “There are other areas where this work should be a higher priority than 32 Avenue.”
Suspension of the project would require a majority decision by council, and would also require reimbursement of the $40,000 share funded by the Cycling Coalition in partnership with TransLink and Langley Township, Coun. Long noted.