Vancouver City Council is expected to make their final decision on the teardown of two viaducts in September, but concerns still loom for residents closest to the plan.
After holding two different protests in 2012, the Strathcona Residents’ Association said that their concerns about traffic has not been met with reasonable answers.
Elana Zysblat, chair of the Strathcona Residents’ Association, said that after three years of reviewing the plan, the City is still looking to route commuter traffic through Prior Street.
“For the last 40 years our neighbourhood has been cut in half, and Prior is an arterial that wasn’t designed to be one,” she said.
Two years ago, council asked for an in-depth analysis of the plan including areas such as traffic and contaminated soils.
The Strathcona Residents’ Association has for long been calling on the city to reroute traffic to another street. Zysblat said that Prior is a neighbourhood street that is not designed for a high-capacity level of cars.
However, the report that council asked for came back in June claiming that Prior was physically fit for high levels of traffic. Concerns that the street was wrongly converted into an arterial road persist as council’s plan for the future of the viaducts does not yet incorporate its relocation of traffic.
“You’ll see the sidewalk is about three-feet wide, and the houses are right there,”said Zysblat. Thousands and thousands of cars speed right by houses. Normally when you design an arterial that has freeway-like traffic, there would be much wider sidewalks.
A study conducted Halcrow Consulting Inc. and commissioned by the City of Vancouver showed that of all morning peak vehicles entering onto the Georgia Viaduct, with 51 per cent exiting on Prior Street and only 28 per cent onto Main Street. Of all the afternoon peak vehicles entering onto the Georgia Viaduct, 63 per cent exited off onto Prior.
Zysblat said that there are also safety and health concerns with the high volume of cars. She notes that a house on Campbell and Prior has been hit three times in two years, and another on Dunlevy and Prior that has been hit twice.
Councillor Geoff Meggs said that the general reaction so far has been positive regarding the teardown of the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts. He adds that council understands that the protection of neighbourhoods east of Main Street is still a big issue.
“They have been looking for that protection for years now, and staff are going to have an answer for that as well, probably having the traffic move into the False Creek developments,” he said.
The plan also has yet to determine exactly what benefits the city will be getting as a result of the new space formerly occupied by the viaducts, whether it be affordable housing, market housing or parks.
City staff will be holding a meeting with the Strathcona Residents’ Association on Thursday, July 30, at 7 p.m. to discuss developments on the plan.