Despite city’s actions to calm traffic, and promises of more, Strathcona residents remained riled about Prior

Members of the Strathcona Residents Association are resuming their angry protests on Prior St. tomorrow, despite the city’s repeated efforts to meet their concerns as recently as March 27.

The rally poster, complete with insults against Mayor Gregor Robertson, who last year called for immediate traffic calming on Prior, leaves out a number of the changes and commitments made in the last year to meet community concerns.

They included, in line with Robertson’s direction, increased parking on Prior and longer crossing times for pedestrians, measures which residents have acknowledged to me have made a difference.

The entire issue only came to the fore with the city’s consideration of the possible replacement of the Georgia and Dunsmuir Viaducts, creating a new neighbourhood east of Main with more park, better connections and improved amenities for thousands of current and future residents.

City engineers have met with the Strathcona Residents Association to confirm that traffic will not increase if council approves removal of the Viaducts and, in fact, should decline. Longstanding plans to move traffic out of Strathcona and across the False Creek flats, along a right of way on Malkin Ave., would be brought forward as the next phase.

As recently as March 27, senior city staff met with SRA reps and agreed to a safety audit of Prior, including consideration of a reduced speed limit. They walked community leaders through a detailed road plan which showed how four lanes — not six — would be linked to Prior at Gore.

Nonetheless, the rally is going ahead.

Divisions in the community are getting sharper, particularly between the SRA and the Cottonwood Garden folks, whose garden is on the Malkin right of way the SRA would like to see used for an alternative route. (The right of way was created for that purpose back in Art Phillips’ days.)

Of course, the Cottonwood Garden people say their position is “non-negotiable” as well: nothing can be touched.

The full staff report on removal of the Georgia and Dunsmuir Viaducts is now scheduled for June.  Replacement of the Viaducts would complete the work started in the 1970s, when citizens rejected the freeway option for Vancouver. That in itself would be be traffic calming on a city scale.