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Viaducts decision at City Council next Wednesday

Friday, October 16, 2015

Lend your voice: 
Viaducts decision at City Council next Wednesday.

The agenda for the Vancouver City Council vote on the removal of the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts has been set for October 21st starting at 2pm. This will be the first opportunity for citizens to speak before council on the subject of viaducts removal since June of 2013.

The decision made by Council next week will represent a possible resolution to years of protest and lobbying by hundreds of Strathcona residents regarding safe and appropriate traffic management through our community. 

Residents are encouraged to sign up to speak ASAP via speaker.request@vancouver.ca. The city apparently anticipates a lot of speakers, because they have scheduled an overflow day Oct 27.

Specifically regarding viaducts removal and Prior Street: as the SRA reported last month, City staff have explicitly included reference to the downgrading of Prior Street as well as near-term traffic solutions (item H) in their report to council. However, there are some very important qualifications to this:

1.) Council are not obliged to follow staff recommendations to the letter, in fact, there are many competing priorities that might convince councillors to amend the report.
2.) There is no explicit timeline presented relative to viaducts removal. The Prior Street alternate route is dependent on the completion of the False Creek Flats planning.
3.) The Prior Street recommendation is explicitly severed from the recommendations.
4.) The viaducts removal is estimated to cost $200m and the City intends to seek help from senior (provincial and federal) governments, the cost of a Prior replacement arterial is estimated to cost an additional $100 and expects help from senior (federal) government.
5.) The plan assumes removing viaducts will yield a reduction in traffic, yet no concrete proposal for density and development of post-viaducts land has been provided. Given failure of transit plebiscite, the relocation of St. Paul's, and entirely contradictory traffic estimates from former department heads - there are reasonable grounds to question the presumed traffic volume metrics.

Some arguments specific to Prior Street to consider when preparing your statement to council:

- Lack of a definitive commitment to replacing Prior Street if the viaducts come down
- Direct relationship between building the viaducts of 1971 and Prior Street as it exists today
- Deleterious and detrimental effects of existing Prior Street configuration
- Safe access to Strathcona Park
- Safe sidewalks and pedestrian crossings
- How results of the federal election might effect funding
- Will federal funding prioritize viaducts removal or Prior Street removal?
- Assumption that traffic volumes on new Pacific will decrease
- Building of a New St Paul's on the Flats
- How much cost will be borne by developers?

You can read more about the history of this issue as pertains to Strathcona on our website.

It should be noted that city staff have worked with the community to address our concerns, and have offered verbal commitments on the importance of replacing Prior as an arterial. That being said, this is an important moment for us as a community to support that staff direction and reinforce to mayor and council the importance of this to residents and safety of our kids and neighbours.

If you cannot attend council to speak in person, please consider writing the mayor and council an email:


Remember, there are competing interests that will be seeking to push council to make a decision and move ahead rapidly on viaducts removal, as a community and a city — this might be our only chance to make sure they get it right.