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Public Hearing Tomorrow Re: Dunsmuir and Georgia Viaducts and Related Area Planning

Hello, Strathcona friends and neighbours.

Tomorrow, the City of Vancouver is holding a public hearing into Viaducts Removal and Related Area Planning (ie. the Eastern Core Strategy). Specifically, regarding their June 18 report, which can be read here: http://former.vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/cclerk/20130625/documents/rr1.pdf

I have sent the following letter as Chair of the SRA, outlining support for the prescribed community engagement policy set out in the report, as well as some of our concerns with the language in the report. Also included here is a link to our Coalition of Communites Statement, which includes stakeholders throughout the area.

Residents are reminded they can send in their own comments to mayorandcouncil@vancouver.ca.
The Public Hearing takes place tomorrow, June 26, 2pm at Council Chambers (City Hall)

- Pete Fry, SRA Chair

June 25, 2013

Re: Dunsmuir and Georgia Viaducts and Related Area Planning.

Dear Mayor Robertson, Members of City Council, Mr. Brian Jackson and Dr. Penny Ballem:

I write you today as Chair of the Strathcona Residents' Association, and member of the Coalition of Communities.

First, let me express my appreciation for the June 18 Policy Report on Viaducts Removal and Related Area Planning, and specifically the recommendation to meaningfully engage Residents and Stakeholders in the next two years of planning.

In the spirit of that meaningful engagement, I would like to offer the following frank comments and concerns.

As you will be aware, the issue of Prior Street has been a source of solicitude and anxiety for Strathcona since the completion of the viaducts some forty years ago. Prior Street as a major east-west connector literally bisects the community, separating us from parks and gardens, shops and residences; a dangerous, narrow highway careening through our neighbourhood.

For Strathcona, the notion of removing the viaducts has always evoked the promise of healing this rift and returning Prior to a local residential street with incumbent major reductions in traffic, improvements to safety, and redesign of the public realm.

Many residents, myself included, are motivated by our own personal tragedies related to this highway through our neighbourhood. It was the failure to acknowledge our valid safety and livability concerns in the 2012 Vancouver Viaducts Study that was the impetus for our community's increased activism this last year.

It should be said that the failure of the 2012 Plan (to wit: a six-lane "New Pacific" replacing the viaducts, and shown linking to Prior at Gore at the edge of the map) was a failure not just of the plan, but a failure of community engagement and consultation. Our genuine hope is that the process of engaging stakeholders as outlined in this new report will signal a new style of working with communities. However, in light of the City's handling of Adanac Bikeway upgrades that included closing Union Street without reasonably and meaningfully consulting the community — we remain skeptical.

As part of a Coalition of Communities, our general concerns are outlined in the attached PDF.
Suffice to say, that while our individual concerns range from traffic circulation to park delivery, density to community amenities, goods and services movement to affordable housing; our shared concern is the process by which we will arrive at the new vision for the city. The process must be one that builds trust, participation and engagement and which treats neighbourhoods and communities as effective participants rather than just spectators or consumers.

As chair of the Strathcona Residents' Association, some of our Strathcona-specific concerns with the Policy Report include:

1.) Throughout the report, reference is made to Appendix A as "Guiding Principles for Removing the Viaducts". Appendix A makes no reference to Eastern Core Strategy, and most alarmingly explicitly identifies Prior Street as a major east-west connector (Appendix A, page 2, item 6). This apparent disregard of our extremely pointed and clearly elucidated concerns undermines our confidence in this report and remains a barrier to our acceptance of it.

2.) While Appendix C makes more pointed reference to Strathcona concerns vis a vis the Eastern Core Strategy — the disconnect of Viaducts Removal and Eastern Core Strategy epitomizes our concerns with this process thus far, and the two need to be considered holistically. We do not support the idea of viaducts removal and a new road network that does not include an Eastern Core Strategy.

3.) Throughout the report, and specifically on on page 18/19 (1.6.4.2 Strathcona), there is a tendency to minimize our neighbourhood's concerns about Prior Street through traffic data, ICBC accident statistics, and our rank relative to accidents city-wide. These kind of metrics show a preponderance towards a traffic engineering rather than livability. Given that there a dearth of active high traffic intersections along Prior, of course there will be less vehicle collisions: but our issue has always been one of safe access to the park, community, use of the public realm and livability - not just commuter collision data. By that same token it would appear the engineer authors of the report impart a great deal of gravitas into the notion of traffic congestion - to be clear, our community's concerns have naught to do with the ability for cars to get from point a to point b as quickly as possible.

I trust that the City's acceptance of this report includes amendments to rectify the above noted shortcomings.

In closing, I look forward to the working together on the tremendous city-building opportunity presented by Viaducts Removal and the Eastern Core Strategy. I am registered to speak at Wednesday's public hearing and welcome your comments or questions.

Sincerely,

Pete Fry — Chair, Strathcona Residents' Association

attached: Coalition_of_communities_statement-June2013.pdf

 

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