January 18, 2021

The Point Grey Elephant in the Yard~Seaside Greenway Public Realm

In 2016 when a report  on  Point Grey Road becoming the Seaside Greenway went to Council, there was much discussion about separating walking from biking, and ensuring that sidewalks were adequate and wide enough. You can reference that report here.

Of course some residents had usurped public city owned boulevard property as their own, by adding in shrubbery and fences, and were none too pleased when the City needed that public property for public things, like sidewalks and boulevards.  There was even discussion from residents that they would be more likely to crash into pedestrians and cyclists with the hedges and trees removed. You can’t make this stuff up.

It is always instructive to look back at what people feared of and to look at how things actually progressed. When the Seaside Greenway was approved, real estate values on Point Grey Road apparently  increased by 30 percent. It is a traffic calmed, quiet street.  And yes, there is an elephant in the yard, in the 3600 block of Point Grey Road.

I have written that  privately owned landscaping on public property may always be challenged. As the city grows and enhances walking and cycling mobility there will be more vigilance to ensure that homeowner landscaping does not impede proposed city works, or indeed, city owned property.

Sadly, the Point Grey elephant’s enclosure does take up some publicly owned property too, and the fence was not moved as part of the improvements for the Seaside Greenway.

Instead the pavement was widened to take up more of the city owned grass boulevard between the curb and sidewalk so not to inconvenience the property owner’s fence.

And further on in the 3800 block of Point Grey Road adjacent to Hastings Mill Park it is quite clear that the sidewalk is not wide enough, with the muddy tracks on either side of the cement showing the “desire lines”. In a park in winter people want to keep their feet dry.

While 1.8 to 2 meter widths of sidewalk are universally accepted as good minimum standards, the intensity of use of the sidewalk and location also needs to be considered.  It’s that kind of attention to detail that is needed as use of the Seaside greenway increases, and the appreciation of everyone’s right to the  public realm is reinforced.




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  1. Why sadly? If the enclosure had been removed, so, most likely, would the elephant. And let’s not get too precious about adjacent property owners doing things on public property. The city —every city — depends on property owners to maintain some of the boulevard space ,at their expense, or risk letting the space run down to whatever level the city can manage. In 30 years of home ownership I have probably mowed 100 football fields of city boulevard and planted thousands of dollars of decorative landscape for the benefit of both me and those passing by.

    Editor’s Note: Lots of space for elephant on its own private property. Go look.

  2. Many streets could become GREEN streets, but city council only did this on Point Grey Road. Need a plan for all streets.
    WATER St. should be No.1 top priority on my list.

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