Malkin Avenue viaduct plans threaten continued operation of Produce Row – impacts on food prices, food security, employment, and more

Malkin Avenue

local grocerThe City of Vancouver is actively considering building a ‘Malkin-connector’ viaduct over the CN railways tracks in Strathcona to connect to Clark Drive. Malkin Avenue is currently a quiet street on the south side of Strathcona Park and adjacent to the Cottonwood Gardens.

Wholesale distributors of fresh produce in the area are a hive of activity, and delivery trucks of all sizes use Malkin Avenue to access loading docks. The distributors move $700 million worth of products annually. “Produce row” businesses also provide a thousand local jobs in Strathcona. Changes the City is proposing could threaten local employment, food prices, food security, small businesses (favouring big box stores), and much more, as the current operations could get dispersed across the region, and out of Vancouver.

local produceThe City’s preferred option of using Malkin as a new east-west arterial street would be “incompatible” with the current use of the street by produce wholesalers. The produce distributors have recently released a letter outlining their concerns regarding the future of Malkin Avenue. The distributors note that small independent grocery stores are now able to buy their produce in one location and thus better compete with large chains.

Local news coverage concerning the future of “Produce Row” include the following articles:

The plans to remove the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts are one of the driving forces behind the Malkin Connector. The City of Vancouver seems intent on making a new east-west connector to move additional vehicular traffic.

The City is considering closing Prior Street at the railway tracks crossing (Glen Drive) and constructing a new viaduct at either Malkin Avenue or National Avenue (other options could include widening the Grandview viaduct that connects East 1st Avenue with Terminal, or simply not building a new viaduct). CN is currently upgrading the railway tracks that run parallel to Clark Drive. If the Centerm expansion is approved, more railway traffic is anticipated in the future. This is one of the reasons why the City wants to remove all grade level crossings over the tracks (including Prior and Union Street crossings).

Malkin connector option

For reference, the letter from the BC Produce Marketing Association to its members is reproduced below:

Dear Members

For your information
The City of Vancouver is planning to change Malkin Ave. into a major arterial route.   You may not know this, but Malkin Ave. happens to be where most of Vancouver’s produce wholesalers reside. Small independent grocery stores and large corporate stores source their produce from this one street called Produce Row.  This small but busy hub not only supply Vancouver but also the whole of BC.   Please also view our website “Produce Row” for updates.

Widening Malkin Ave will impact the synergy of this unique farm to table chain.  Several wholesalers could be lost or forced to move to a new location. Trucks and trailers will experience difficulties maneuvering into the warehouses due to the heavy traffic and traffic laws.  (Can you imagine the mess the street will be with trailers backing up into warehouses and stopping traffic?  And with the new St. Paul’s Hospital nearby too???)

How will this affect you?  Here are a couple of ways.

– Less wholesalers mean less competitors for grocers to choose to buy from, this will be reflected in higher prices when you shop at your favorite grocery store.

– It will affect the green initiative because small grocers will have to drive to different locations to buy their products instead of one central street. (Example:  Many independent grocers visit different wholesalers to get the best prices and freshest products possible.)

How You Can Help.

Below is a link to the Save Produce Row Facebook page.  The site will give you a history of the area and why it is important to maintain this Vancouver institution. Please support the cause by liking and commenting, and by forwarding the link to as many people as possible.

Thank you for helping Save Produce Row.

The original letter and suggested actions are available on the website along with a letter template for Produce Row customers.

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s