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Special summertime meeting about the future of the Viaducts - Thursday, July 30th 7:30 pm

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Hello neighbours,

Although the SRA traditionally breaks from monthly meetings in July and August, we have just heard from the City of Vancouver that ‘ The future of Vancouver’s viaducts will be decided in September’.  City Council decided to defer the decision about viaducts removal two years ago in light of Strathcona’s and other neighbourhood’s concerns with a lack of larger-picture planning and understanding of the removal plan impacts. We have just been notified that two years of studies, work and planning that we were not given the opportunity to be involved in nor notified about, will be the basis of this imminent decision.
In response to this concerning development and accelerated timeline, SRA Council and Prior Street Committee have reached out to planners and engineers, directly working on the updated Viaducts Removal Plan to be presented to Council in September, and have asked them to meet with our membership to discuss these plans with us.
A ‘Viaducts Update’ meeting will take place at the Strathcona Community Centre (601 Keefer Street) at 7:30 pm on Thursday, July 30th.
Please RSVP to to let us know if you plan to attend so that we and City staff can plan the meeting around actual attendee numbers.
In preparation for this meeting SRA Council and Prior Street Committee have met directly with Viaducts Team planner Holly Sovdi and Viaducts head engineer Devan Fitch to bring them up to speed on the neighbourhoods concerns and past activities around Viaducts planning. We have relayed two very clear messages to them:
1. Although there are ‘pop-up’ meetings the City is currently holding to present the new Viaduct removal plans to the public, we are only interested in a meeting if it can be an actual conversation opportunity, not just another version of the branded Power Points about the Viaducts Removal Plans already available on the City’s website: As a community we have years of specific experience, knowledge and research completed about the Viaducts and we would like to see the detailed, illustrated plans for the proposed Viaducts removal to be presented to Council in September 2015, whether they are final or not, and the opportunity to comment and ask questions about them, as part of this meeting.
2. We made our case in July 2012 that a Viaducts Removal Plan which retains Prior Street as the east-west arterial for traffic flow in and out of downtown is not acceptable to us, no matter what the engineer’s studies conclude about the road’s capacity now and in the future. The Mayor himself went on record that summer to say that he would like to see Prior calmed and an alternate route such as Malkin Avenue considered instead, as part of the Viaducts removal (see quote below). The SRA will not support any variation of a Viaducts removal plan unless it is attached to a written, legally binding commitment to removing/rerouting traffic off Prior. Our initial conversations with the planners for the new St. Paul’s revealed that they too do not like the option of Prior Street as the main road access to their new facility. We hope we can work with City staff to make this commitment a formal part of their report to Council in September, whether or not an alternate route will have been identified or planned by then.
We look forward to this opportunity to meet and engage with the City staff who are directly involved in preparing the upcoming report to Council on the future of the Viaducts.
The content of this meeting and staff’s openness to working with us on including a commitment to an alternate east-west arterial to Prior Street as part of the September report to Council, will determine our next steps and actions as a communityWe hope to see and hear many residents that night. Please mark you calendars and RSVP to attend!
In the meantime, if anyone is interested in attending one of the City’s ‘pop-up’ presentations about the Viaducts they are holding one tonightSaturday, July 11, 7 – 11 pm at Farmers’ Night Market, Plaza of Nations, 750 Pacific Blvd. More information here:
Here is a quote of the mayor’s promise when the decision on the future of the viaducts was deferred in 2012:

Mayor Gregor Robertson, July 24, 2012:

 "This is a big big decision for Vancouver and the future of the Eastern Core and the Viaducts is obviously huge for our city's future. It will have big influence how we connect and we respond to the needs of of neighborhoods like Chinatown, Strathcona, Grandview-Woodlands for many decades to come and as such it's a key decision that still has outstanding issues that need to be addressed before I'm prepared to move forward.

The litmus test for me is whether the changes here will benefit the citizens who live and work in the area and better connect the City as a whole. We have historic neighborhoods here directly impacted by the viaducts and the lack of connectivity through the Eastern Core, and that contrasted with an opportunity for more park space, more affordable housing, more vibrant connected streets - but I think the way that we do this is really critical.

I've just outlined five clear pieces that I'd like to see come back to council in the fall for our consideration.

The first of those is the residents along Prior Street have made a very compelling case in addressing their longstanding concerns about traffic and I believe that some immediate improvements are warranted, reinstating the parking being one of them, looking at traffic calming options like speedbumps is another, but I think that addressing that is overdue and certainly that needs to be addressed with the decisions going forward but those immediate changes I think can start to happen.

The second piece is that we need to pursue the Malkin Street connection. It’s been in the background for years and it’s time to act on it and I think there’s an opportunity with the viaducts and the Eastern Core plan to fasttrack the Malkin Street connection, to look at the federal infrastructure funding that’s coming down the road so to speak and make sure that that becomes a top priority as part of this initiative..."

Also, thank you to a neighbour who sent this information to help clarify confusion about watering restrictions:
“ People are a bit confused about watering restrictions…Please note the bold text”

Be water wise and make a significant contribution to conserving our water by taking a few steps, like:

• Let lawns go brown, or abide by the lawn sprinkling restrictions (once per week). 
• Do water flower and vegetable gardens, decorative planters, shrubs and trees. These plants provide habitat for birds and insects that are vital to the environment and the food chain. 
• Do help young, recently planted trees thrive. Refill the slow-release water bags set out by Parks staff or adopt a tree in your neighbourhood. 
• Only use a hand-held spring-loaded nozzle, watering can or drip irrigation when watering shrubs and gardens so the water goes exactly where it’s needed.  
• Sweep away leaves and debris rather than using a hose to spray them away – this limits the amount of potable water washed down the storm drains. 
• Take a break from washing the car, spot clean your windows with a hand-held, spring-loaded nozzle, and no more power-washing unless it is specifically for health and safety reasons.  
• Turn off your taps, fix leaky faucets and running toilets, and, use ice cubes or cool drinking water in the fridge rather than running the tap for long periods.   
• If you have a newly planted lawn it can be watered more often as it gets started, however a permit is required and make sure it is posted on your lawn. 
Water use restrictions in effect until September 30

The City and Metro Vancouver continue to monitor reservoir levels. Water use restrictions will remain in effect throughout the region until September 30.
Enjoy this cooler weekend and the much needed rain!
Best Regards,
SRA Council - Elana, Roberta, Chris, Gordon and Rick