The fate of the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts will be decided by Vancouver City Council on Wednesday, January 31.
City Council is expected to approve the controversial plan, which will demolish the elevated, arterial bypass roads between downtown Vancouver and the Eastside neighbourhoods.
Currently, approximately 45,000 vehicles use the viaducts on a daily basis, and this traffic will be transplanted onto a new, smaller road network on the ground level.
West Georgia Street will be extended from Beatty Street to Pacific Boulevard between BC Place Stadium and Rogers Arena with a new four-lane, bi-directional ramp.
As well, existing east-west traffic on Pacific Boulevard, Expo Boulevard, and both viaducts will be transplanted onto a reconfigured Pacific Boulevard, which will be bi-directional east of where the new street meets the West Georgia Street extension.
A decision to proceed with the removal of the viaducts will also be paired with the redevelopment of the Northeast False Creek area into a mixed-use district with thousands of new residential units, retail, restaurants and bars, and public spaces, including a new 11-acre park that will expand the existing Creekside Park.
The new and expanded park space will also consist of large multipurpose spaces for major civic events as well as a continuation of the seawall.
When the area is fully complete, there will be up to 12,000 new residents in the area, including about 3,250 residents within 1,800 new social housing units. The new retail, restaurant, and office spaces are also expected to create between 6,000 and 8,000 new jobs.
A new community centre with a public ice rink that doubles as the new practice arena of the Vancouver Canucks will be built on the site of the Plaza of Nations.
According to a new City staff report, all of the new public amenities and spaces, social housing, and critical road infrastructure are expected to cost the City of Vancouver a total of $1.7 billion, which includes $360 million for the demolition of the viaducts and the construction of the new ground-level road network. This is a significant cost increase, as the City’s previous estimate in 2015 for the demolition and new road network was $200 million.
The municipal government claims it can recover some of the $1.7 billion cost from developer-related revenues, utilities, sale or lease of City-owned lands, and strategic partnership agreements with non-profit organizations. While this figure includes social housing costs, this total cost does not include the private sector, developer-funded costs of building new commercial and market residential developments.
If City Council approves the Northeast False Creek Plan, further agreements will be required with various landowners, the provincial government, and other parties for the replacement of the viaducts. City staff are expected to return to City Council with an update on these negotiations in mid-2018.
Future developments are dependent on site rezoning applications, which will inform financial and construction procurement strategies.
At the same time, the City is also contemplating the route of a new arterial road – with an overpass over the railway – through the False Creek Flats from the eastern end of the new North East False Creek arterial road to Clark Drive. Early estimates indicate this project could cost up to $230 million.