Hello, Strathcona friends and neighbours.
This will be the first of several notes to the community about items going to vote before City Council this month.
On Wednesday June 12, council will vote on a proposal to limit vehicular access in and out of Strathcona via Union Street. On Wednesday June 26, council will very likely be voting on Viaducts removal. In both instances, the feeling is that the criteria for community consultation has not been met.
Last night, at a well attended meeting, residents heard from the City's Director of Transportation, Jerry Dobrovolny and his staff regarding what had been billed as "Upgrades to the Adanac Bikeway between Gore and Carrall". Two open-houses in May detailed the plan for the public, and members were notified of this at May's SRA meeting.
Understandably, resident interest in May's open-houses was not significant, most likely because the open-houses had been advertised as upgrades to the Adanac Bikeway to the west of Strathcona, between Gore and Carrall. However, on Wednesday June 5, staff explained the proposed "upgrades" include not just the bikeway, but the roadway and extend east of Strathcona's western boundary at Gore. The plan specifically eliminates east bound Union Street access into Strathcona up to at least Dunlevey (1 block east of Gore) and the full closure of Union Street west of Main.
To date: residents, drivers, and tax assessments still refer to this particular arterial as Union Street (not Adanac Bikeway), hence genuine surprise as to why it was not identified as being considered for closure in the first place.
Staff explained the rationale for the plan and answered questions. Staff were unable to explain why planning east of Gore Avenue was specifically mis-identified other than it was "an oversight". We contend that this sort of "oversight" is not a desirable benchmark of community planning or civic engagement.
A handful of attendees voiced support for the proposal, while a majority of residents expressed concerns with the plan, but more importantly, the lack of community engagement and the deceptive and disingenuous means by which the plan had been presented. In a vote open to all attendees, the majority agreed that this plan should be rejected in favour of returning to the community for proper consultation, with four in favour of the plan as staff had presented it.
Meeting attendees were invited by staff to consult with the City's Transportation 2040 Plan which outlines aspirations for cycling routes including the Adanac Bikeway. On inspection, the 2040 document very explicitly outlines a criteria for community consultation that has not been met.
From page 70:
"In all cases it is important to consider other street functions and neighbourhood needs, and to tie the work into other plans that are currently in development. ... The City will work to improve the pedestrian environment and address business concerns around access for customers who drive as well as for services and deliveries. Given the complexity of these areas, staff will undertake a rigorous analysis, consider alternative routes that meet project objectives, and consult with residents and other stakeholders before returning to Council with detailed recommendations for approval."
This means that according to the City's own master planning document, the justification and context for the Union St modification has not had it's stated specific criteria met. Clearly, the obligation to consult all stakeholders - not just Adanac Bikeway users, but Union Street users, residents and other stakeholders - has not been carried out with due diligence.
Without getting into the failings or merits of the specifics of the plan, we maintain that planning should not only involve throwing down a traffic hose and crunching data from a desk at 12th and Cambie, but must engage the lived experience of the community and local knowledge. Local knowledge for instance: that by eliminating vehicle access to the neighbourhood via Union, residents will be forced to make dangerous left turns against traffic on Prior and cross Union at a perpendicular, both of which will increase the risks to drivers and cyclists respectively. Local knowledge for instance: that 97 year-old neighbourhood landmark Benny's Market relies on Union Street access at Gore for their truck deliveries.
It should be noted that while the City was unable to supply any accident data that supports the need for closing eastbound access between Gore and Dunlevey, we were informed that since 2007, 11 serious bike accidents have been reported at the intersection of Main and Union. It was generally agreed that the intersection of Main and Union is far too dangerous and that in the immediate, modification and improvements to the traffic lights with specific cyclist features, and fixing potholes are warranted.
It should also be noted that while the SRA has long lobbied for safety improvements on Union Street, specifically at Hawks and at Gore (for pedestrian and cyclists respectively), many feel the Union at Hawks upgrade was unsatisfactory, lacked follow up, and failed to result in the desired yielding of cycling commuters to resident pedestrians. This perspective very much informs resident concerns that emboldening cyclist commuters to treat Union Street as a bikeway rather than a residential street significantly undermines feelings of safety and livability.
We ask that council reject item (i) of the Active Transportation Capital Projects report, and engage a planning process that is true to the terms of the 2040 Transportation plan.
This is the position I will be presenting before Council on June 12 (9:30am).
I would certainly appreciate the community's support while I am there.
- Pete Fry, SRA Chair
How You Can Help before council votes on June 12.
- Email your thoughts to email@example.com
- Consider speaking to Council. If you wish to address the Standing Committee, please call Nicole Ludwig at 604.873.7191, by 1:00 pm on Tuesday, June 11, 2013. Please note speakers are requested to limit their comments to no longer than five minutes.
- Please attend the council meeting to support community consultation!
DATE: Wednesday, June 12, 2013
TIME: 9:30 am
PLACE: Council Chamber, Third Floor, City Hall