It’s an understatement to say that traffic patterns would be significantly altered if the existing Dunsmuir and Georgia Viaducts were to be removed. We’ve included a number of photos of Malkin Avenue and the adjacent area, of Cottonwood Garden and of the Viaducts in the above slideshow.
Malkin Avenue is the backbone of a busy hub for trucks that distribute fresh produce throughout the region. A number of large trucks back into loading bays along Malkin during business hours. These produce wholesalers are located just across from Cottonwood Community Garden and Strathcona Park. There are also a number of cars parked on this street, as the area is an important employer.
The City is considering widening Malkin Avenue and extending it east to Clark via a new bridge over the railway tracks. This would be done so that traffic flows could be rerouted in the event that the viaducts are removed. The widening of Malkin would include the removal of most of the present day Cottonwood Community Garden. As well, additional traffic on Malkin would significantly disrupt the operations of the wholesalers; these outlets fulfill an important role by distributing food to the region (everyone has to eat).
An open question is whether the consequences of the viaduct removal have been thought out in full. Will the Council majority charge ahead with the removal of the viaducts? Who would benefit the most? Are the beneficiaries primarily the campaign contributors to the Council majority? Does the removal of the viaducts and the construction of towers go hand in hand? Or will new development be built at a human scale?
While there might be perfectly good reasons to remove the viaducts, the full costs of the proposition needs to be taken into account. This includes the disruption to Malkin Avenue, the full cost of a new bridge to Clark Drive, the new traffic patterns and the impacts of new development. Is the City listening to residents in the area and are they working to present a win-win proposition? Or is this another exercise in top-down planning? Stay tuned, as the City will likely review the plans for the viaducts during the fall term.