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Letter from the Chair

The following is the response to the City's Viaduct Removal Plan by SRA Chair James Johnstone, dated June 13, 2012

Dear Mayor and Council,

Re: Georgia Viaducts & Traffic Calming on Prior Street –
   A Chance to Right a Historic Wrong

... I am writing to give voice to the deep concern, anger, and frustration in my East End community that is the result of recent proposals made by City Staff concerning the demolition of the Georgia Viaducts. Over the past years Strathcona’s support for the removal of the viaducts has been solicited by Councillor Meggs. We have listened with great interest to this idea. The Georgia Viaduct, with its high impact commuter and truck traffic running along Venables and Prior, is the last remaining vestige of a City plan that would have wiped out Vancouver’s oldest neighbourhood Strathcona, and large swaths of historic Chinatown and Gastown.

Under the leadership of Mary Lee Chan and others, our East End neighbourhood rallied, organized, networked, lobbied, demonstrated, and sometimes charmed its way forward to the point that in the end Strathcona, home to much of Vancouver’s oldest built heritage and a unique multicultural community, was saved for posterity.

The removal of the Viaduct and the return of Prior and Venables to their original function as safer, traffic-calmed neighbourhood streets looked very attractive to us, and based on that link the Strathcona Residents Association voted to support their removal. However, there is no concrete plan for traffic calming along Prior and Venables included in the current proposal. All of the benefits and amenities associated with the demolition of the viaducts stop at Gore. Frankly, we feel betrayed.

The East End receives no benefit from the current Viaducts Removal plan. In fact the proposal as it is now further entrenches a deplorable high impact traffic situation that for decades has split off the neighbourhood south of Prior, our Community Gardens, and Strathcona Park from the rest of our community.

This is unacceptable to the East End. Strathcona will not stand for it. We demand that traffic calming along Prior/Venables be inextricably and concurrently linked with any plan to demolish the Viaducts. This would be an excellent opportunity for the City to once and for all, symbolically as well as substantively, right the historic wrongs done to our East End community in the 50s and 60s. I implore you to make this a win/win situation.

Sincerely,

James Johnstone
Chair, Strathcona Residents’ Association
(East End/Strathcona) Vancouver, BC