Special summertime meeting about the future of the Viaducts – Thursday, July 30th 7:30 pm

Viaducts and SkytrainThe Strathcona Residents Association (SRA) is organizing a meeting to discuss the future of the viaducts on July 30th at 7:30 pm (at 601 Keefer Street).

Cit staff have recently made their recommendations in support of the removal of the viaducts prior to finishing public consultation. For reference, we’ve reproduced the SRA’s invitation to the July 30th meeting:

Hello neighbours,

Although the SRA traditionally breaks from monthly meetings in July and August, we have just heard from the City of Vancouver that ‘ The future of Vancouver’s viaducts will be decided in September’.  City Council decided to defer the decision about viaducts removal two years ago in light of Strathcona’s and other neighbourhood’s concerns with a lack of larger-picture planning and understanding of the removal plan impacts. We have just been notified that two years of studies, work and planning that we were not given the opportunity to be involved in nor notified about, will be the basis of this imminent decision.

Union StreetIn response to this concerning development and accelerated timeline, SRA Council and Prior Street Committee have reached out to planners and engineers, directly working on the updated Viaducts Removal Plan to be presented to Council in September, and have asked them to meet with our membership to discuss these plans with us.

A ‘Viaducts Update’ meeting will take place at the Strathcona Community Centre (601 Keefer Street) at 7:30 pm on Thursday, July 30th.

Please RSVP to council [at] strathcona-residents.org to let us know if you plan to attend so that we and City staff can plan the meeting around actual attendee numbers.

In preparation for this meeting SRA Council and Prior Street Committee have met directly with Viaducts Team planner Holly Sovdi and Viaducts head engineer Devan Fitch to bring them up to speed on the neighbourhoods concerns and past activities around Viaducts planning. We have relayed two very clear messages to them:

  1. Although there are ‘pop-up’ meetings the City is currently holding to present the new Viaduct removal plans to the public, we are only interested in a meeting if it can be an actual conversation opportunity, not just another version of the branded Power Points about the Viaducts Removal Plans already available on the City’s website: http://vancouver.ca/home-property-development/viaducts-study.aspx. As a community we have years of specific experience, knowledge and research completed about the Viaducts and we would like to see the detailed, illustrated plans for the proposed Viaducts removal to be presented to Council in September 2015, whether they are final or not, and the opportunity to comment and ask questions about them, as part of this meeting.
  1. We made our case in July 2012 that a Viaducts Removal Plan which retains Prior Street as the east-west arterial for traffic flow in and out of downtown is not acceptable to us, no matter what the engineer’s studies conclude about the road’s capacity now and in the future. The Mayor himself went on record that summer to say that he would like to see Prior calmed and an alternate route such as Malkin Avenue considered instead, as part of the Viaducts removal (see quote below). The SRA will not support any variation of a Viaducts removal plan unless it is attached to a written, legally binding commitment to removing/rerouting traffic off Prior. Our initial conversations with the planners for the new St. Paul’s revealed that they too do not like the option of Prior Street as the main road access to their new facility. We hope we can work with City staff to make this commitment a formal part of their report to Council in September, whether or not an alternate route will have been identified or planned by then.

We look forward to this opportunity to meet and engage with the City staff who are directly involved in preparing the upcoming report to Council on the future of the Viaducts.

The content of this meeting and staff’s openness to working with us on including a commitment to an alternate east-west arterial to Prior Street as part of the September report to Council, will determine our next steps and actions as a community. We hope to see and hear many residents that night. Please mark you calendars and RSVP to attend!

Here is a quote of the mayor’s promise when the decision on the future of the viaducts was deferred in 2012:

Mayor Gregor Robertson, July 24, 2012:

“This is a big big decision for Vancouver and the future of the Eastern Core and the Viaducts is obviously huge for our city’s future. It will have big influence how we connect and we respond to the needs of of neighborhoods like Chinatown, Strathcona, Grandview-Woodlands for many decades to come and as such it’s a key decision that still has outstanding issues that need to be addressed before I’m prepared to move forward.

The litmus test for me is whether the changes here will benefit the citizens who live and work in the area and better connect the City as a whole. We have historic neighborhoods here directly impacted by the viaducts and the lack of connectivity through the Eastern Core, and that contrasted with an opportunity for more park space, more affordable housing, more vibrant connected streets – but I think the way that we do this is really critical.

Cottonwood Garden in path of Malkin Connector

Cottonwood Garden in path of widened street, Malkin Connector

I’ve just outlined five clear pieces that I’d like to see come back to council in the fall for our consideration.

The first of those is the residents along Prior Street have made a very compelling case in addressing their longstanding concerns about traffic and I believe that some immediate improvements are warranted, reinstating the parking being one of them, looking at traffic calming options like speedbumps is another, but I think that addressing that is overdue and certainly that needs to be addressed with the decisions going forward but those immediate changes I think can start to happen.

The second piece is that we need to pursue the Malkin Street connection. It’s been in the background for years and it’s time to act on it and I think there’s an opportunity with the viaducts and the Eastern Core plan to fasttrack the Malkin Street connection, to look at the federal infrastructure funding that’s coming down the road so to speak and make sure that that becomes a top priority as part of this initiative…”

More information on the study is available here: http://vancouver.ca/home-property-development/viaducts-study.aspx.

3 thoughts on “Special summertime meeting about the future of the Viaducts – Thursday, July 30th 7:30 pm

  1. We cannot add 40,000 vehicles per day to our ground level streets. Keep the Viaducts and extend a new route through City property to 1st Ave.

  2. I sympathize with the SRA but sadly the fix is in as the COV has already proceeded with plans to construct wide overpasses on both Malkin and Prior including approaching the Govt of Canada for funding. The National Thornton St extension thru to Great Northern Way is currently hung-up, literally, as it now sits as a mid-air cul-de sac off GNW but the COV does intend to complete it to divert traffic off Main St once it negotiates a COV taxpayer funded agreement with BNSF, part of the costs not included in the teardown/financial impacts.
    Both are an example of how the COV and others were well aware that St. Paul’s Hospital was going to relocate to the False Creek Flats before the 2014 municipal election. Plans are underway to add divided/landscaped left-turn lanes northbound on Clark Drive going West on Malkin and Prior, projects that were left out as part of the Clark/Knight Corridor Study/Report and construction. Then again so was a left-turn lane N/B on Clark Dr heading West on East 7th Ave/ the Off-Broadway Bike-Route but somehow it was unanimously approved by City Council and built anyway, since then rat-running vehicle traffic volumes on the bike-route and adjacent to China Creek Park North have doubled. Only on the Eastside of Vancouver does the COV add truck turning lanes to residential bike-routes bordering Inner-City parks/playgrounds and children’s day-cares.
    The COV intends to further carve up the False Creek Flats with more roads for increased truck traffic yet there are no plans in place to add transit in the same area. That should come as no surprise given the number of COV employees in the Flats that currently benefit from unlimited free parking such as those working at/from the Evans Yards, the COV Pound, the various VPD/VPB worksites, etc.
    The over-passes are required to increase rail traffic to and from the port along with current and future traffic volume increases, remember that City Council approved new and expanded underground parking lots next to BC Place/ Rogers Arena, where are those vehicles coming from.
    As you know the COV pulled out an over 100 year old document to justify removing park/greenspace from the southside of Strathcona Park and adjacent community gardens as they claim the land was never intended to NOT be a roadway. You can bet whatever road-widening the COV requires for trucks turning/queuing will have to be doubled for thru traffic and off-site truck storage.
    Current plans call for the inevitable lost Eastside greenspace to be ‘ resurrected ‘ West of Main as part of generous developer CAC’s from tearing down the viaducts with Vision Council turning Eastside Community gardens into a waterfront off-leash/ money-losing dog park. You may remember a certain City Councillor claiming new parks in False Creek would only be a 5 minute walk away, the fact that some East of Main may not be able to walk that far was dismissed as irrelevant.
    At best the SRA may see additional traffic lights on Prior as so-called traffic calming and re-paving with ‘quiet’ asphalt like East 1st Ave, how’s that working out for reduced noise and traffic.
    However don’t be surprised if any new traffic lights start out first as pedestrian/cyclist activated but end up morphing into vehicle activated lights as the COV has done in our Inner-City Nbhd, SOP on the Eastside. The COV also intends to turn Glen Drive into a truck route from the port thru to Broadway and has already begun the process by removing 4 way stop signs.
    The best measure of Vancouver City Council and by extension the elected Vancouver Park Board’s personal committment to your Inner-City Nbhd is quite simple, how many do you think live in your nbhd.
    In the meantime there’s no money available for you as they collectively continue to negotiate with the CPR to remove a transit route and provide an exclusive greenway thru the toney Westside nbhds they, their friends and majority of financial backers live in.
    Play nice and maybe they’ll let you visit the Westside sometime but bring your wallet.

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