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SRA's Official Response to Viaduct Removal Plan

The following is the official SRA response to the City's Viaduct Removal Plan, dated June 4, 2012

Good Afternoon Kirsten Robinson,

The newly-revealed Viaduct Removal Plan shows great promise for the City of Vancouver. However a major Strathcona consideration appears to have been overlooked: traffic-calming Prior Street.

Representing Strathcona Residents at the May 24th stakeholder meeting, I was very disappointed to see that the proposed Viaduct Removal Plan continued to show traffic routed through Strathcona, not around it. I have consistently stated at all outreach and stakeholder meetings that traffic calming Prior Street is a priority for Strathcona. The Plan does not show any traffic calming, safety, or amenity improvements along Prior Street. In fact, it appears to embed Prior Street as an arterial, with no measures to decrease traffic volumes from present levels. Given that the plan shows increased urban densities and additional at-grade road connections, it is not unreasonable to anticipate that traffic and 'rat running' through Strathcona along Prior / Venables would actually increase. Finally, City staff indicated that Prior Street traffic calming, safety, and amenity improvements would only be considered when the process to build the Malkin Connector is undertaken. Unfortunately there is no commitment to build the Malkin Connector in the foreseeable future.

It seems that some 40 years after Vancouver’s east-west freeway system was abandoned, that traffic engineers still cannot resist the temptation to draw a line through Strathcona. Indeed, what an irony: to recognize the folly of a previous generation’s freeway, remove it, and then recreate the very same unwanted consequences all over again. From Strathcona’s perspective, what good is removing the Viaducts if their legacy of traffic, danger, noise, community-division, and ugliness is permitted to remain?

The sad history of the Viaducts is that of a terrible and on-going impact on the community of Strathcona. Strathcona residents fought in vain to stop the construction of the viaducts. For 40 years we have been forced to live with our neighbourhood cleaved in two by a dangerous arterial road to nowhere which brings no benefit to our community. Many of Vancouver’s neighbourhoods (Grandview, Shaughnessy, Mackenzie Heights, others) have enjoyed relatively swift traffic-calming, safety, and amenity improvements. Strathcona has been waiting 40 years for the same consideration. It is unreasonable to ask Strathcona Residents to wait any longer. To borrow a phrase, we are seeking to “Re-Connect” to our own neighbourhood geography. Now is the time to finally accomplish this through the Viaduct Removal Plan.

On behalf of Strathcona Residents, I would like to say that I am very excited by the prospect of the removal of the Viaducts and the incumbent improvements to our city as a whole. However, let’s not allow both the construction and the removal of the Viaducts to come at the expense of Strathcona. We have a rare opportunity to heal our past and define our future - let’s adjust the Viaduct Removal Plan to provide greater livability for all, at the expense of none. We ask that traffic calming Prior Street be included in the Viaduct Removal Plan now, not postponed for years to come.

We welcome City of Vancouver staff’s response to Strathcona's concerns.

Respectfully submitted and yours very truly,
Graham Elvidge, IA AIBC, MArch, BA
Strathcona Residents Association, Viaducts Liaison

Co-signed by:
James Johnstone, BA
Strathcona Residents Association, Chair

c.c.
Kirsten Robinson, City of Vancouver Planner II Central Area Planning Branch
Karis Hiebert, City of Vancouver Planner III Central Area Planning Branch
Cory Dobson, City of Vancouver Planning Analyst , Central Area Planning Branch
Devan Fitch, City of Vancouver CEII Strategic Transportation Planning Branch
Geoff Meggs, Councilor, City of Vancouver
Michael Alexander, Urbanist
Grandview Woodlands Area Council
Shirley Chan, BOB, CCC, SPOTA
Chinatown Revitalization Committee
Andrew Yan, Architect BTA
Herman Mah, BCIT downtown
Jordan Eng, Chinatown BIA
James Johnstone, SRA, Chair