Unanimous council vote marks turning point in work to replace Viaducts, renew north False Creek

Last night’s unanimous council vote to complete the legal, financial and planning work to replace the Georgia and Dunsmuir Viaducts marks a turning point — maybe the beginning of the last chapter — in the Viaducts’ story.

If the new plan is fully implemented, the heart of the city will have new parks, much-improved pedestrian connections to historic neighbourhoods, better road conditions to Georgia St., options for more affordable housing and much more.

Although council still has the option to keep the Viaducts, if satisfactory arrangements can’t be made, the final decision on their fate is now two years or less away.

As many councillors remarked last night, after five hours of community submissions that were overwhelmingly in favour of tearing the Viaducts down, this is a city-building moment that comes only once in a generation.

If action is not taken now, it would be much more expensive and perhaps impossible to remove the Viaducts later. Among those sending their endorsement of the plan: former mayors Harcourt, Owen and Larry Campbell.

Also on board: every major Chinatown community and business organization, as well as every community organization around False Creek and the East False Creek Flats, although the latter had a number of concerns they must see resolved.

It’s been a long journey since council began considering the future of the Viaducts in 2009 — but Vancouver is clearly closer to the end than the beginning.