Vancouver council report to detail full potential of Viaducts plan: parks, new neighbourhood links and more

The report reference to Vancouver city council Tuesday on the replacement of the Georgia and Dunsmuir Viaducts should lay out a wide range of new information on a transformational project that is seizing the imagination of residents across the north side of the city.

A decision on the future of the Viaducts will wait until fall so everyone has a chance to digest the new information and the answers to many questions raised in the course of consultations during the last three months. (City staff were meeting with Chinatown community leaders as recently as last Tuesday to give them yet another briefing on many aspects of the proposal.)

That decision would, in my view, mark a tipping point.

If council decides to pursue the staff proposal, planning would proceed for a city without the viaducts. If not, things will remain much as they are.

Yesterday’s Vancouver Sun column by Bob Ransford captured many of the issues now exciting residents in the heavily-populated areas reaching from north False Creek to Yaletown, Chinatown and Strathcona, all of who could benefit from the changes.

One that Ransford does not make much of, but I do, is the five acres of additional park space generated by the new street plan. It took 15 years and $22 million to acquire the 2.2 acres for Emery Barnes park in the Yaletown/south Granville area. Depending on how you do the calculations, acquiring twice as much space around Rogers Arena could cost many times as much — and none is for sale in any case.

Public interest in the issue is growing:

  • hundreds came to three open houses and more than 600 filled in comment forms
  • a wide range of organizations and community groups, including the Board of Trade, have weighed in with their opinions
  • community groups to the east of the Viaducts have underlined their determination to win relief, at last, from traffic generated by the Viaducts. (Engineering staff have met with Strathcona residents and made it clear their concerns will be acknowledged.)
  • more people are insisting on quicker resolution of planning decisions on East False Creek Flats and its road network, particularly the long-awaited Malkin connection to Clark Dr.

There is no doubt this decision is a critical one. Some important aspects — financial and timing issues, in particular — can’t be clarified until council makes its “tipping point” decision. It looks like that decision is just a few months away.