Point Grey Road (Kitsilano): Resident questions changes, reports on impacts of construction

Point Grey Road April 2017 (3)Media have periodically covered the construction and changes to Point Grey Road in Kitsilano, Vancouver. Here is a fresh report from April 2017 on the status, with commentary and photos submitted by Lisa Towers, a resident of Kitsilano living on West 4th Avenue (four blocks away). She questions the costs, City budgeting priorities, and negative impacts. Reformatted for CityHallWatch. For the City’s official web page on “Point Grey Road Seaside Greenway completion and water/sewer construction” click here.

*****

Vancouver is one of the most beautiful cities to live in, and I feel fortunate to live in such a naturally attractive and environmentally forward-thinking place. As stewards, we have a responsibility to protect and preserve Vancouver’s unique qualities.

I can’t emphasize enough my frustration with the process of construction currently taking place on Point Grey Road.

A couple of years back, the City spent approximately $6.5 million (Phase 1) to close down Point Grey Road for the purpose of creating a bike route, even though there was (and still is) a designated and popular bike route on nearby 3rd Avenue, which runs parallel to Point Grey Road.

The closure of Point Grey Road as a vehicle route resulted in:

  1. Increased traffic on 4th Avenue and Macdonald Street;
  2. The loss of a major artery for motor-vehicle traffic;
  3. Increased traffic lights and crosswalks on 4th Avenue and Macdonald Street (creating gridlock), with many residents from 1st Avenue to 4th Avenue now having to use 4th Avenue and/or Macdonald Street to get out of the area;
  4. Increased idling of cars at traffic lights on 4th Avenue, concentrating harmful emissions along 4th.

In 2016, the City further endeavoured to improve the closed down road by expanding the already-wide sidewalks, narrowing the road in some blocks, widening it in others and “greening” the space (Phase 2). The City moved telephone poles and rewired connections for utilities to replace “new green space” after removing the existing green space. Finally, they are still in the process of pouring extensive concrete foundations (sidewalks, curbs, raised crosswalks and boulevards) after having removed the existing foundations. The extensive new infrastructure is intended to close permanently what was previously a through-road for all citizens, all modes of transportation, including cars.

To do this, the City removed existing trees and green space:

Point Grey Road April 2017 (1)

Point Grey Road April 2017 (2)Point Grey Road April 2017 (3)The City also had to move existing telephone poles and rewire the connections for utilities to replace “new green space” after removing the existing green space:

Point Grey Road April 2017 (4)Point Grey Road April 2017 (5)

Finally the City has been pouring the foundations that will permanently close the through road for good.

Point Grey Road April 2017 (6)

Phase 2 was budgeted at another $6.4 million, and the cost is rising. The total cost of the changes to Point Grey Road in the past two years is approximately $15 million. Why is all this attention and public money going toward this eight-block section of Point Grey Road? How does this compare to other streets of the city? Why all the attention, money and beautification for one local street? Why are motorists excluded from enjoying the “improvements”?

I live on 4th Avenue, not far from this construction work. I have noticed a doubling of vehicle traffic as well as the loss of the convenience and driving access down Point Grey Road.

During the process of the construction, I have never received any notifications in the mail, or otherwise, regarding this major “upgrade.” I was not invited to participate in any consultation. Nor did I see any signage erected at either end of Point Grey Road prior to or during the work to advise residents and citizens of what was being planned and implemented in this area, though it’s possible I may have missed the scant notification somewhere. Regardless, surely any required improvements in cycling and pedestrian routes could have been accomplished without shutting down this important route.

With all of the needs of the city, should the $15 million have been spent on more pressing matters, and in other, less affluent, areas of the city. Do we really need to shut down an entire city arterial for the exclusive use of pedestrians and cyclists? How is that fair and equitable?

9 thoughts on “Point Grey Road (Kitsilano): Resident questions changes, reports on impacts of construction

  1. Soooooooo I didn’t read all of this because it went on and on and OOONNN. Ride a bike! This will be one of the best bike routes in the city when the project is complete! If that’s not your thing then just watch all the happy faces ride and walk by on a nice sunny day.

  2. Thank you Lisa for detailing this travesty so well. The fact that onlookers are insulated from this de-greening/re-greening WASTE has reduced attention to this matter. With our city positioning itself as strapped for cash, it is notable that Vancouver city taxes were actually raised in order to pay for this sidewalk on a closed road on the most tony street in the country. Not to mention the gridlock and inequity caused. Why are there no protests over this waste?

  3. This is a construction site. Would you at least mind withholding judgement until the project is complete? Every day that passes you are getting closer and closer to raised property values, and a road you yourself will surely be able to enjoy. Chill.

    • Pamela,

      Clearly, you do not live on the road. If you did, you would know that the residents do not care about any marginal increase in the property values from Point Grey Road being turned into a “greenway.” Many of the residents are extremely well-off and don’t need the minimal property value increase, if there will even be any. Residents know the safety hazards of this project and the history of this project, which involves misrepresentation by the City to the public and sham “public consultations” that claimed to allow citizen input, when in fact that input was utterly and deliberately ignored. Again, taxpayers have to pay for these “consultation” meetings, not just for Point Grey Road, but for the Arbutus Corridor, Commercial Drive, Georgia Viaduct, South False Creek, etc. Vision pet projects. They are all a complete waste of our money, an expensive “show” of inclusion, when in fact no actual consultation that has any meaning or any representation of public interest occurs. Fact, City engineers design the project, and that is what is implemented regardless of safety concerns, independent safety studies, Road Safety Audits or the common sense fact that if you abut a sidewalk to a driveway edge (by widening the existing sidewalk into the right-of-way), there is no space for a car exiting a driveway to see pedestrians on the sidewalk until the car is on the sidewalk (already impacting pedestrians). And, without any signage to direct the multi-mode users to particular areas of the sidewalk and roadway, cyclists and skateboarders on the sidewalk are impacting pedestrians, and pedestrians and runners on the roadway are impeding cyclists and local motorists. Road Safety engineers understand the dangers of such a design, but City of Vancouver engineers just build what Vision tells them to build regardless of the dangers to all users of the space. So, Pamela, respectfully please don’t iterate generalized platitudes when you don’t know the daily safety risks of the specific road with all of its complexities, and you don’t know the history of Vision’s misrepresentation of this pet project.

  4. How did we get to the place where people believe that they have the right to drive any and everywhere? Driving is a privilege so many motorists abuse, a privilege heavily subsidized by the rest of us, one which mortgages our children’s future, and kills a million people every single year. That the city would try to reduce motor venue traffic along the seawall ought to be commended, not vilified.
    Try riding instead of driving for at least a month and then let’s talk.

  5. Thank you Lisa for your insightful article. The travesty is the Vision Council’s contempt for priority, democracy and safety. Fact, as admitted by Vision Councillor Heather Deal when Phase 2 Construction was approved by Council: the millions of dollars spent on Point Grey Road would have been better spent elsewhere in the city, but Vision wanted to create its “legacy” as a “gem” on the 8 blocks of affluent Point Grey Road, so citizens would not forget Vision. Fact, Heather Deal and City engineers led by Jerry Dobrovolny stated to Council and in the media (both on video) in 2013 that the right-of -way on Point Grey Road would not be used for the project because building a wider road or sidewalk extension would create a “safety ingress/egress problem” for over 80 driveways, and the change would be too “dramatic” and “too expensive, in the millions of dollars.” Yet, Heather Deal and Jerry Dobrovolny lied to citizens; they flip-flopped on Phase 2 in 2016, using the right-of-way, creating an unsafe passage way for all modes of users, spending $15 million and counting, completely ignoring the citizens Petitions to Council against the project as unsafe and a waste of money on redudant infrastructure. Road Safety Engineers and experts in Road Safety auditing G. Ho Engineering Inc. have declared this project unsafe and “likely to cause more casualties.” Fact, this Vision-majority City Council is anti-democratic and willing to sacrifice citizens’ lives to further the Vision Party’s own bike-obsessed agenda. Point Grey Road has become a chaotic battleground of thousands of cyclists daily on the road and sidewalk, with runners, pedestrians, local motorists, skate-boarders, roller-bladers, wheel-chairs, prams, scooters and motor-cyclists all fighting for passage on this local, residential neighbourhood road and sidewalk, now transformed into an oxyMORONIC “inland seawall” without signage or any clear allocation of spatial divisions. Accidents and death are impending, and we paid for them at our Council’s dictate against citizens’ will. So much for government representation of the majority of the population. Cyclists comprise less than 10% of us; motorists are over 50%, with the rest using public transit. Do you want your tax dollars to continue to provide for only the cyclist minority in a city as diverse as Vancouver? Do you want to be injured or die at the hands of your own City Council? Wake up Vancouver!

  6. Ken Lawson,

    Yes, of course. Everyone has the right to challenge anyone, but just because one has that right does not mean that one should exercize it, particularly if he/she is significantly uninformed.

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