Below are some points being raised by the False Creek Residents’ Association (FCRA) regarding the proposed removal of Vancouver’s Viaducts. The topic goes to Council Oct 20 (Tues), speakers are to be heard Oct 21 (Wed), and any overflow speakers will be on Oct 27 (Tues). FCRA urges the public to get involved and address their concerns to City Council in person, or in writing.
Viaducts decision at City Council next Wednesday – A myriad of unanswered questions
Adapted from notes by the False Creek Residents’ Association
THERE ARE STILL QUESTIONS THAT NEED ANSWERS.
Lend your voice. Viaducts decision at City Council next Wednesday. The agenda for the Vancouver City Council vote on the removal of the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts has been set for October 21st starting at 2pm. This will be the first opportunity for citizens to speak before Council on the subject of viaducts removal since June of 2013. Residents are encouraged to sign up to speak ASAP via firstname.lastname@example.org. The city apparently anticipates a lot of speakers, because they have scheduled an overflow day Oct 27.
This coming week City Council is expecting to decide whether or not to proceed with the removal of the viaducts. Council will be voting on whether or not to spend an additional $21 million on the quest to remove the viaducts. On Wednesday there will be an opportunity to speak to council regarding this decision.
The False Creek community will be the most affected by the actual physical removal itself but little has yet been said about what this will entail. What is the environmental cost to the community of several years of deconstruction? Pollution, noise, dust, etc.? Where will the staging for the deconstruction take place?
FCRA has repeatedly voiced many concerns. As a community association FCRA states that it is not against the removal per se. But many questions are yet to be answered. Below is a sample of key questions.
First, what about the Creekside Park Extension? This park, which includes the completion of the Northeast False Creek (NEFC) seawall, was a contractual obligation of Concord Pacific in the Original Development Plan in 1990. They have consistently delayed the delivery of this much needed park space by shifting the parameters of that responsibility. Now the responsibility and the possibility have been shifted to the removal of the viaducts.
They are attempting to get ‘buy in’ by making yet another promise (13.75 acres instead of the 9.06 acres that is already part of the contractual agreement). Those 13.75 acres now include the land under the viaduct previously allocated to youth hard surface recreation, as well as the closure of Carrall Street to North/South traffic, effectively making that area “park space,” and the new cycling/pedestrian bridge to Dunsmuir Street. They now say there will be an early phase-in of the seawall. If it is possible now to provide a completed seawall why hasn’t it been possible before? The timeline for the park as stated in the viaducts report is 2025. Waiting another 10 years is not expediting the park. There is no sunset clause for completion of the park attached to this proposal. The ODP states that the park will be delivered when the last of Concord’s sites is completed. Does this mean that they can stop short of the completion and thereby delay the park delivery even further? Beyond 2025? We would like a definitive answer to that question. We would like to see more transparency in this decision. We would like to have City Council truly expedite the early delivery of the park by encouraging the immediate rezoning of the land with the most contaminated soils, so they can be excavated and remediated, so the park can be delivered prior to the completion of the 2500 new residential units. We have waited long enough.
Secondly, what about the Park Board park space requirement (still on the books at 2.75 acres per 1000 residents)? This rationale was again ratified by the Park Board unanimously a couple of years ago. With a possible new increased density of 2,500 residential units ( 2 – 2.5 million square feet) on the land opened up by the viaduct removal, what amenities will be provided to offset that density? Or for the City of Vancouver to pay $200 million for the viaduct removal and road changes, will the community get nothing? There is absolutely no way that the community can bear that increase in population, not to mention traffic, without more offsetting green space or other amenities. Where are the plans for the required social infrastructure to meet the needs of these thousands more residents? No schools, community centres, daycares —just more and more density to contribute money for the viaduct removal (again, $200 million). If the City of Vancouver is going to be negotiating with developers regarding community amenities, there should be more transparency in that negotiation and actual consultation. Not just another “presentation” of a done deal a week before a report goes to council.
Thirdly, is there a traffic plan for North/South arterial streets like Abbott, Carrall and Quebec Streets? Other than the plan to close Carrall Street to North/South traffic. We have not seen the connection between Quebec Street and the new Pacific Street, and how Quebec Street, Milross and National Streets will be ultimately affected. There are still ongoing concerns regarding traffic in the 100 and 200 blocks of Prior Street. The City has promised that there will be 8-meter setbacks to take the pressure of the new traffic pattern off the residents who now live in those blocks. The residents never expected to have to contend with six lanes of traffic outside their front door. There need to be assurances that this will be mitigated as promised.
For anyone who lives here we see the huge volumes of traffic sitting bumper to bumper on both arms of the viaduct, especially the Dunsmuir viaduct, during rush hour and most importantly when there are concurrent events at the stadia. Or on the Park site (i.e., Cirque du Soleil).
It is unfortunate that there are still many unanswered questions. Especially: Who will benefit and who will ultimately be paying for this? What do the city taxpayers actually get? What do the developers get? Will we be looking at a wall of condo towers separating our neighbourhoods rather than the viaducts which we can still see over and walk under? The Skytrain will still be a divisive component between neighbourhoods as will a six-lane roadway which will need to accommodate the 40,000 vehicles currently using the viaducts as well as the 22,000 vehicles currently using the surface roads.
The FCRA’s Green Light Campaign (buy a light to shine in your window) remains our silent signature protest for neighbourhood green space which has brought the community together and inspired imagination of what might be possible .
How to reach City Council:
If you cannot attend Council to speak in person, please consider writing the Mayor and Council an email:
MORE READING AND LINKS
Viaducts removal plan goes to Council Oct 20 (Tues), speakers to be heard Oct 21 (Wed)
Concord Pacific: Corporate social responsibility, integrity and governance