5 myths about the Viaducts and why they stand in the way of a better city

The groundbreaking report on the Viaducts and False Creek Flats going to council next week shatters five myths about the Viaducts that stand in the way of a better city.

Chief transportation engineer Jerry Dobrovolny and chief planner Brent Toderian stand the issue on its head, challenging Vancouver citizens to help them design the future of the city in the key area from BC Place Stadium east to Clark Drive that now sits under old freeway, asphalt or simply abandoned behind the Pacific Central Station.

They’ll make sure the traffic needs are met.

The report gives us permission to consider the city in new ways, with shorter Viaducts, a single viaduct, or new connections from Pacific and Expo to Georgia and Dunsmuir. Here are the five myths they busted to open the door to a new plan:

Myth No. 1: the traffic now on the Viaducts has nowhere else to go

Fact: “Due to the reduction in vehicle volumes entering the downtown over the past 15 years, there is available vehicle capacity on adjacent streets to accommodate some of the diverted traffic . . . A 20 percent reduction [in Viaduct capacity] would have minimal diversion of traffic. The 100 percent reduction scenario would require additional transit infrastructure.”

Myth No. 2: there’s no problem, the Viaducts are fine

Fact: “This design was based on these Viaducts becoming the first phase of a larger freeway network that was planned. Today the viaducts create a physical and visual barrier in this area of the city.”

Myth No. 3: the Viaducts would be difficult to remove

Fact: “From a structural perspective there are several viable removal scenarios.” These changes could also be phased in over time.

Myth No. 4: there’s no need to consider this issue now, the Viaducts can last for years

Fact: “Planning is currently under way for the Northeast False Creek area and an update of the City’s transportation plan is in the early stages of consultation. It is important to develop a vision for this area that fits with the new context and develops a vision for the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts so they can be incorporated into these plans.” In addition, “the transportation and land use issues in the Eastern Core are fundamentally linked,” so the city needs to ensure that False Creek Flats has the best possible transportation links in every direction.

Myth No. 5: the public won’t have a say, this is all about developers

Fact: the staff report proposes a city-wide “ideas fair” to engage the public, creation of an expert advisory panel of local and international experts, public consultation and further reports to council before any decisions are made. Creation of new public spaces and green space was a key objective of council’s decision last year to study reconfiguration of Creekside Park, now a stretch of asphalt on the north side of False Creek.