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October 21, 2015 at 10:24 PM

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VPSN offers continued support for removal of Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts

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For the last several years, the VPSN has been following the discussion around the potential removal of the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts. It’s a proposal that our members have given considerable thought to, and we’ve enjoyed some good debates about the pros, cons and other implications of decommioning what is significant, if overbuilt infrastructure. 

We continue to support the proposal to remove the viaducts. The most recent technical report produced by City staff – and currently being deliberated by City Council – responds to a number of questions (particularly around road realignment, traffic flow and existing parks and gardens) that had been raised by residents earlier in the process. We think this document does a commendable job of further making the case for taking the viaducts down. Earlier this week, we wrote to Mayor Robertson and members of Council to say as much. The following is an excerpt of our submission.

…The VPSN has supported the removal of the Viaducts since the City first introduced this idea a number of years ago. We have participated on the NEFC Steering Committee, written previous letters of support, and have discussed this issue widely with our membership.

After reviewing the most recent staff report and documentation, we continue to support the removal of the Viaducts on the basis that this move will:

  • Remove aging and overbuilt highway infrastructure from our city’s core area
  • Enable significant public space improvements
  • Better knit together the existing downtown, Strathcona and DTES communities and road networks
  • Create new opportunities for urban growth and development that support the goals of compact, walkable neighbourhoods and the creation of new social infrastructure

We are particularly supportive of the further work that has been done to identify potential public space improvements, including:

  • Expanded park area in Creekside Park, modifications to Andy Livingston Park, the replacement of existing skatepark facilities, the opportunity to achieve the “Georgia Steps”, and the creation of a Creekside Promenade
  • An elevated park area that utilizes components of the Dunsmuir viaduct
  • Improvements to active transportation facilities in the area
  • Public space programming ideas that reference a range of uses that will appeal to the diverse interests and needs of Vancouver’s residents and visitor base

While we understand that the capital costs of removing the Viaducts will be a cause concern for some, we also understand that the City will be required to spend significant capital dollars regardless of whether or not the Viaducts are removed. (This isn’t a matter of paying or not paying – it’s a matter of when.)

We believe the City is being proactive and has taken the right steps to assess the implications and opportunities associated with removing this aging highway infrastructure. We don’t feel that the Viaducts should ever be upgraded. Simply put, the opportunity to improve the City though the creation of new neighbourhoods, better open space and more social infrastructure is infinitely more compelling.

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