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Oakdale claims victory with footpath

It was standing room only in Coquitlam council chambers this week, with nearly 80 Oakdale residents protesting the city's plans to pave a beloved footpath.

It was standing room only in Coquitlam council chambers this week, with nearly 80 Oakdale residents protesting the city's plans to pave a beloved footpath.

The proposed black-topping of Pin Oak footpath in the west Coquitlam neighbourhood was part of a subdivision bid for an adjacent property on Chapman Avenue.

Residents didn't comment on the land being sliced into six single-family lots, but rallied for two hours in an attempt to convince council to leave the path alone.

Council got the message and, in the end, voted against the asphalt.

Yesterday (Tuesday), Ben Craig, president of the Oakdale Neighbourhood Association, tipped his hat to the community for its passionate support to save Pin Oak.

"I think the prospect of paving this footpath will be necessary but clearly now is not that time," he said. "We thank council and staff to responding to us."

Jim McIntyre, Coquitlam's GM of planning, told The Tri-City News on Tuesday the decision means the developer's contribution for the paving will be absolved.

During Monday's public hearing, Coun. Brent Asmundson warned Oakdale residents the city would be "missing an opportunity" should the asphalt not go in.

As chairperson of the city's universal-access ability advisory committee, Asmundson pushed to pave the natural footpath and to bring it up to standards - not only for pedestrians and cyclists but for people with strollers and in wheelchairs as well.

Asmundson, who drives a Coast Mountain Bus Co. bus in Burquitlam, also suggested the area's walkways need to be upgraded with the Evergreen Line coming.

Mayor Richard Stewart said many residents would be up in arms if their pathways weren't paved and "here, we have a neighbourhood asking for less," he said.

Stewart acknowledged the city got off on the wrong foot with the proposed conversion. In September, the city received complaints when it was recommended Pin Oak be opened as a "country lane" for traffic; a 100-name petition in opposition was submitted.

Last week, city staff took the vehicle access option off the table. Instead, they suggested the pathway be widened from Chapman to Nicola avenues to 6 m and be paved in the middle with a 3.5 m strip. Removable bollards would be placed on each end.

But that was also rejected as residents wanted to keep the path pristine.

Long-time Burquitlam resident Hildegard Richter told council Oakdale residents didn't trust the city as they felt a paved Pin Oak would be eventually opened to cars.

She was among the 16 people who spoke with emotion at the public hearing - many of them stating Pin Oak was a safe place from the rat-running cars.

Afterward, Coun. Lou Sekora told council he wouldn't support the subdivision bid should the city not guarantee Pin Oak be preserved; he moved a motion to keep the path in its natural state and to consult Oakdale on the future of its footpaths.

His motion was unanimously supported; the subdivision bid was also approved.

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