1958 City planners declare Strathcona a slum and decide upon a course of urban renewal that would have seen about 30 acres and over 600 homes and businesses cleared to make way for a freeway and housing projects.
1963 Despite the rejection of two city plans by the local community, Phase II of the Strathcona Redevelopment Project proceeds with work on the block bounded by Keefer, Jackson, Georgia and Dunlevy Streets.
1968 Grass-roots resistance. Local residents including Mary Chan and Harry Con found the Strathcona Property and Tenants Association (SPOTA) to fight city plans to build a freeway through Strathcona. They are joined by a diverse group of citizens including Mike Harcourt, Walter Hardwick and Shirley Chan and hundreds of Vancouver residents who successfully thwart city plans to bulldoze large parts of Gastown, Chinatown and Strathcona. By this time, however, the City had already purchased and cleared 15 blocks of Strathcona for urban redevelopment.
1971 Another act of grass-roots resistance: twenty five women, the "Militant Mothers of Raymur," blockade the train tracks between Raymur and Glen demanding a safe crossing for Seymour students who have to cross the busy and dangerous tracks every day to get to school. Their intermittent train stopping blockades prompt the city to build an overpass at Keefer later in the year.
1972-3 The only remaining vestige of the freeway that didn't happen — the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts — are built. In the process Strathcona's historic black neighborhood, Hogan's Alley is leveled.
2009 Strathcona Residents' Association resolves
to support the Venables Prior Greenway Project
Moved: Graham Elvidge, Seconded: James Johnstone
Be it resolved that The SRA supports the Venables Prior Greenway Project (VPGP) as described below: The Venables Prior Greenway Project (VPGP) proposes to traffic calm and beautify Venables/Prior Street from Gore Avenue to Commercial Drive, with the ultimate goal of returning these streets to their former status as neighbourhood streets. The aim of the VPGP is to proceed incrementally: 1. to reduce traffic lanes from four to two by reinstating 24-hour parking; 2. to introduce further traffic calming measures such as corner-curb bulges and bus bulges; 3. to address safety issues and wheelchair accessibility and; 4. to provide additional trees, plantings, public art, and historical markers. The purpose of this project is to enhance the livability of the historically linked neighbourhoods of Grandview-Woodlands and Strathcona by favouring pedestrian, bicycle, and transit over automobile traffic, and provide improved opportunities for commerce along Venables. Some of the many City of Vancouver precedents for this type of greening, traffic calming, and street improvement include Carrall Street Greenway, Victoria Drive traffic calming, Blenheim Street re-designation to Local Area Feeder, and Crown Street Sustainable Streetscape.
2010 Vancouver's Winter Olympics see the closure of the viaducts and with it, virtual elimination of traffic on Prior. Apparently, Vancouver commuters and truckers can function just fine without Prior Street.
2010 May: Strathcona Residents' Association resolves
to request Prior / Venables be downgraded from truck route to local collector
Be it resolved that the SRA request that Prior / Venables Streets be downgraded from truck route to local collector street between Main Street and Clark Drive, and that the City of Vancouver provide an alternate truck route from Main Street, via National-Thornton-Malkin-Raymur-Parker. And be it further resolved that the SRA supports the City of Vancouver’s plan for a bridge connecting Malkin Avenue to Clark Drive.
2010 November: Vancouver City Councillor Geoff Meggs visits Strathcona Residents' Association to present his vision of viaduct removal. Key points include: Olympics showed that the viaducts could be closed with few affects on traffic in the area. Traffic on the viaducts is dropping year to year. 7200 new residents in the area around arenas and 5000 new jobs. Significant Development coming to the False Creek area (22 towers). The possibility of a Hogan's alley commemoration if the viaducts are removed. Of particular interest to Strathcona, on the subject of Prior Street and how traffic is managed post viaducts, the Malkin Bypass was deemed most likely. A powerpoint presentation reveals a two phase project of traffic and soil review followed by urban design, land use issues and more detailed structural analysis.
2012 May: Strathcona Residents' Association resolves
to offer conditional support of viaducts removal
Be it resolved that the SRA supports the City of Vancouver’s removing the Georgia & Dunsmuir Viaducts with the following conditions: that local area collector status and improved amenity are provided to Prior/Venables Streets; that a plan to stitch the urban fabric of Main Street back together is developed; that safe, quality connections are provided to False Creek and Strathcona Park; that traffic be routed around, not through Strathcona; that affected existing bike routes be re-established; that the City of Vancouver think creatively about solutions that mitigate the affect of traffic along Powell and Hastings Streets.
2012 June: City of Vancouver reveals it's Vancouver Viaducts Study The study does not include any traffic calming of Prior Street, but rather: an extension of Prior as a six lane street from Gore linking to Main, Quebec and a new Pacific Boulevard. The new Pacific Boulevard will merge former Expo Boulevard and is to function as a collector for former downtown viaduct traffic (via a new Georgia ramp), Yaletown, False Creek and the new post-viaducts developments. Prior Street is identified as "a direct east-west link to the downtown for commuter vehicles and large goods-movement trucks."
2012 June 29: Strathcona resident members of the ad-hoc Viaducts/Prior working group meet with city staff including engineering, planning and the Director of Transportation to explain and discuss neighbourhood concerns.
2012 July 5: Grandview Woodland Area Council issue a letter of support for the Strathcona and SRA position on Prior Street and request the City take immediate action to calm traffic on Prior / Venables
2012 July 6: Reclaim Prior! Between three and four hundred Strathcona residents of all ages and backgrounds take to the intersection of Hawks and Prior to protest the City's failure to address Prior Street in their viaducts plan and demand immediate traffic calming. Event organizers vow to continue and even ramp up the protests until safety and livability improvements are made.
2012 July 24: City Staff presents plan for viaduct removal. Mayor Gregor Robertson directs staff to return in the fall with revisions to include immediate traffic calming of Prior and fast-tracking of Malkin Connector. Read the transcript of his speech here
2012 September: In response to local resident protests on Prior Street, including residents from Strathcona, Grandview-Woodland, False Creek, City Gate, Cross Town, Chinatown and the Downtown Eastside, direction was given to City of Vancouver engineering department to make some immediate changes in parking restrictions and pedestrian crossing times to improve safety on Prior Street. These changes included the installation of ‘timed’ cross lights at some of the pedestrian intersections with longer cross times and the reintroduction of parking along Prior (removed for expo86): On the north side of Prior, parking is now permitted except for 7 - 9:30am and on the south side except for 3 - 6 pm. This has notably slowed down traffic in off-peak times.
2013 February: City staff shared an updated viaducts removal plan with Strathcona residents, to be re-presented to Council in June 2013. The 'new' plan had no remediation of the 'old' plan or 40 year legacy of dumping highway traffic onto a residential street. The plan proposed to connect a new expanded six-lane Pacific Boulevard (replacement for Viaducts traffic and new arterial for False Creek and Yaletown) to Prior Street. City staff maintained that the area east of Gore is "too complicated" to include in any Viaducts Removal Plan. Residents maintain that in the absence of an Eastern Core Strategy or even a Road Safety Audit, the plan as proposed is reckless. Within 48 hours of the staff presentation Prior Street saw three significant traffic accidents, including one fatality.
In an unprecedented show of cooperation, neighbouring affected communities united to demand that the following traffic calming measures be conditions of any Viaducts Removal plan. The five community groups wrote Mayor Robertson an urgent letter on February 26th, 2013 to which he has still not responded.
2013 April: Multi-community Rally on April 1st on Prior Street to demand City accountability and that viaducts removal must include traffic calming Prior as promised by the Mayor. The rally brought out over 300 people from participating communities of Strathcona, DTES, False Creek, Grandview-Woodland and Chinatown.
2013 June 26: Council unanimously approved a report which laid the foundation for viaducts removal and how to manage traffic east of Main (ie. Prior Street). One of the conditions of that approval was a promise to work with the local affected communities in a developing a transparent and collaborative consultation process over the next two years. August 2013 Strathcona and Grandview-Woodland residents request a Road Safety Audit for Prior and Venables, including a liveability assessment, to be conducted by a third party consultant.
2013 September: Northeast False Creek and Eastern Core/False Creek Flats Engagement meeting called by the City of Vancouver. This 2-year planning process would involve community and business stakeholders for the ‘Eastern Core’ as per Council’s instruction on June 26, 2013. The first and only meeting was held on September 19th, 2013. Although notes from this meeting were circulated to attendees, the Engagement Strategy was never continued, further meetings with resident associations of the area were never held, and the two-year planning process was carried out internally by City staff.
(the first news about this process was given in June 2015 when staff announced that the results of this 2-year work was going to determine the future of the viaducts in September 2015)
2014 May: City Engineering review proposals from consultants for the Prior Venables Road Safety Audit and hire Urban Systems to conduct it. Residents of Strathcona, Grandview-Woodlands, False Creek, Chinatown, Cross Town and City Gate participate in a walk-through on Prior and Venables with the consultant in July 2014 and collect over 130 surveys from residents about their experiences on the these roads for the audit.
2015 February: The results of the Road Safety Audit, without the liveability assessment which had not yet been conducted, were presented to the SRA. The summary of the results as we heard them (we were not given a copy) were:
The consultants’ bottom line was that, while many things small and large can be done to make Prior Street safer for drivers and pedestrians, none of the large things will be done. This is because doing the large things will make the street less safe for drivers unless the volume of traffic is reduced, and traffic volume is NOT going to be reduced.
Given that Engineering has imposed that “no traffic can be diverted to other streets as part of the proposals in the audit” the consultant could not explore alternate routes to Prior, effectively maintaining the current traffic volumes for their proposed solutions.
The report recommends “a new road cross section, reduced lanes, and better provision for bicycles, transit, and pedestrians”, but only long term, and per Engineering promise of possible Malkin Connector. Many short-term, small ‘band-aids’ proposed, but only on the basis of ‘prioritized funding allocation under existing CoV programs’.
The Liveability assessment has not yet been conducted, but a Road Safety Audit report has been completed without it. It will eventually be included, but it will not influence any changes in any substantive way. We have still not seen the results of the Liveability Assessment as of July 2015 and believe them to be redundant given that viaducts planning has already been completed without them.
2015 June 23: The SRA receives notification via Eventbrite that ‘Council will consider the future of Vancouver’s viaducts in September of this year, including the full removal and replacement of the viaducts with an at-grade street’ and that as stakeholders, we are invited to accept a ‘Viaducts Update’ from City staff about the removal plans.