Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Buena Vista/Sir Wilfrid Laurier Park Master Plan: Share the Trails

Buena Vista Dog Park by raise my voice
Dog walkers and cyclists need to cooperate. The future of the Buena Vista off leash area is at stake.
The City of Edmonton is proposing some pretty significant changes to the Buena Vista/Sir Wilfrid Laurier Park area in the west end. Buena Vista in particular is significant because it is an off leash park that is very popular with dog owners.

I have often enjoyed riding my bike around Sir Wilfrid Laurier Park and attending picnics there. Other than maybe some road upgrades and modernization of the washroom facilities, I don't really have any complaints.

I do have some concerns with the plans for the Buena Vista area. They include adding lots of parking stalls, paving trails, and building fences to separate dog walkers and cyclists.

Buena Vista is one of the few areas of natural green space in the city. There are some places where you can stand amongst the trees and bushes, and it literally feels like you are out in the countryside. Adding a plethora of parking will diminish this green space. As Joni MItchell sings, they plan to "pave paradise and put up a parking lot."

Paving the trails and building separation boundaries seems to favour cyclists. I personally enjoy riding on the gravel trails - again, it makes me feel like I am somewhere else. I can ride on paved roads almost anywhere else in the city.

What the area needs is more cooperation between the dog walkers and cyclists. As a cyclist, it pains me to say that there are many irresponsible people on two wheels riding through Buena Vista. They speed through there with little regard for anyone else, and paving the trails will only encourage this behaviour.

Instead of separations, education and communication aimed at sharing the area is needed. The City should not be trying to change something that is already wonderful - I am also a dog walker, and most of the people I have spoken to down there are not in favour of the changes at all.

The one change I support are adding washrooms to the Buena Vista off leash area. There are a couple of porta potties here and there, which are not sufficient for a park of that size and usage.

The City should better use its planners and funds to improve the road leading down to Buena Vista, Sir Wilfried Laurier Park, and the Valley Zoo. It is in terrible condition and is an embarassment to the City, that people heading to one of Edmonton's main attractions should have to experience it. As a cyclist, I find all of the potholes and unevenness dangerous.

The City is asking stakeholders to complete a survey by August 3. Dog walkers and those otherwise not in favour of what could potentially happen are being encouraged to support Concept 1 (more off leash to the north) and oppose Concepts 2 and 3. Be sure to fill out the comments and explain why dramatically changing the face of Buena Vista is a bad idea.

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