Is the City preparing to implement a suicide prevention fencing barrier on the Granville Street Bridge, as the previous administration did for the Burrard Street Bridge?
The Granville Street Connector consultation appears to indicate that the means prevention fencing will go in, if staff have their way. The panels from the Phase 3 of public engagement (in January 2020) only consider ‘two possible approaches’ for the Granville Bridge. This is to consider one of two types of barriers; it does not consider the option to keep the Granville Bridge railing ‘as is’. Did this make any sense? Why consult if staff have already taken some of the options off the table?
Five years ago, a previous Council majority voted to install the fencing on the Burrard Street Bridge as a last minute addition. This was after a presentation by Vancouver Coastal Health at the time the Burrard Street Bridge item was heard. There had been no public discussion or consultations on this matter beforehand. Despite a petition signed by 2,426 supporters to stop the fencing, despite efforts by Heritage Vancouver and much pushback from the public, the fencing went in anyway. Former Councillor George Affleck attempted to bring forward a motion for a re-examination of fencing on the Burrard Bridge, but that was to no avail. Now the fencing is installed, it has come at a cost and with a heritage impact on the Art Deco bridge. There is also the substantial impact on the public realm. It’s also worth noting that some restoration work on the Burrard Street Bridge was forgone as it was not budgeted for.
Earlier in the year, it appeared that the original timeline for the Council decision on the Granville Bridge upgrades was for the spring of 2020. With the pandemic response, this has apparently been delayed. The Granville Street Connector page doesn’t have any recent updates and the email@example.com email is non-responsive at the moment.
Is the same fate in store for the pedestrian and cycling experience over the Granville Bridge? Five years after Vancouver City Council decided to have preventive fencing installed on the Burrard Street Bridge, will history repeat itself? The change for the Burrard Street Bridge was made with last minute advice of public health official, without public input. Will the current City Council default into decisions already made by staff and previous Councils? Will they consider all angles, including the pedestrian and cycling experience over the Granville Bridge? Is there a still an opportunity to consider all options? And the bigger picture? There are many other bridges around here (Cambie Street, Lion’s Gate, Knight Street, Grandview Viaduct, etc.), so how far would this policy go? How does it fit with other priorities? What are the research findings from other cities about fences like these?
Admittedly, this is a sensitive topic, but it should involve a conscious decision by Council based on fresh and complete information, and the public should have an opportunity to consider the topic, provide comment, and have that input considered in the decision.
Granville Street Connector:https://vancouver.ca/files/cov/granville-bridge-connector-open-house-boards-january-2020.pdf
Jan 22, 2019 Report:https://council.vancouver.ca/20190130/documents/pspc2.pdf
Former City Councillor George Affleck attempted to reexamine the fencing on the Burrard Bridge with a motion of notice on May 31, 2016:
The addition of the fencing was added at the July 22, 2015 Council Committee meeting:
With the section added:
C) THAT staff work with appropriate stakeholders during the design phase on accessibility elements, suicide prevention barriers, and to resolve access issues.
The changes were carried with the majority, with Councillors DeGenova, Affleck and Ball opposed.
The last minute changes were in response to a VCH presentation: https://council.vancouver.ca/20150722/documents/ptec2CoastalHealthPresentation.pdf