Transit, History and Culture on Venables

About three dozen hardy souls braved the frigid temperatures last night and came out for the GWAC February meeting. I think they had a fun and though-provoking evening.  The theme last night was the revival of Venables Street, and I quickly disposed of a few housekeeping items at the beginning of the meeting to get to the programme that had been arranged by a few other Directors.

We began with a prose poem by local writer John Roberts about the #20 bus  — our one and only bus — that was pointed and funny and very well received.  This was followed by Director Tom Durrie circulating his flyer protesting the current state of transit on the Drive, a good debate about transit in general, and a report from Director James Taylor Irvine on the progress of the Powell Street overpass.

Local historian Bruce Macdonald then regaled us with an illustrated history of Venables Street that included fascinating diversions into the history of Ireland, the cedar tree business, and Okanagan horticulture.  That was very well appreciated.

After that came what was the centrepiece of the evening, a discussion about the Venables Greenway project that won a design prize in 2005 for its plan to develop Venables as a quiet, tree-lined street servicing low-rise retail, light-industrial, park and cultural spaces.  We were privileged to have Emily Chu to speak with us.  Emily had been one of the primary designers of the Greenway which she described as both an entrance way for Grandview but also a living link between Grandview and Strathcona.  It was agreed that a high-rise at Commercial & Venables as proposed by Boffo Properties did not fit in this design concept and would do nothing to improve that part of the neighbourhood.

The main presentation was completed by Mina Matestinic who talked about the East Van Culture Crawl and, more generally, on the difficulties that artists and musicians have in finding work and display spaces, and how the Venables Greenway could be very useful in this regard.  I suggested that arts groups and artists lobby hard with both the City and the Cultch to preserve the Green House which could provide a wonderful space.

It was agreed that we will set up a Working Group to push for the reinstatement of the Venables Greenway project into the Community Plan and beyond.

A very good night indeed!


5 Responses to Transit, History and Culture on Venables

  1. faits divers says:

    Outstanding quest there. What happened after?


  2. jenables says:

    the issue I have with making Venables a green way is that, well, it would increase traffic on Frances st from Clark. Venables is zoned for light industrial, not residential. (I have no issue with whatever is done east of commercial on Venables) Frances st has one block of light industrial, then a dangerous intersection with bad visibility at McLean (intersecting a bike route to boot), a 30 km/h park zone with residential on one side and the well-used baseball diamond in woodland park on the other, then another intersection where the stop signs for woodland seem to be missed or interpreted as a four way stop a concerning amount of the time, before being flanked on both sides by residential before commercial. Venables is used heavily to access both Commercial and Victoria, in many cases to get to Hastings without turning left at Clark (I don’t mind turning left there but I suppose it is intimidating enough) and obviously it feeds out of Prior st., one of the very few east west arterials in this part of east vancouver. While I agree it could use some serious plants and trees, I don’t think I can agree with closing it off to vehicular traffic. Adanac, one block east is already closed at two points between commercial and Clark, and forcing vehicles to turn left onto Clark at unsignalled intersections is very dangerous. can you tell me if the traffic impacts on Frances st have been considered? Also, I couldn’t actually tell from the link if there was vehicular access, or if it was one lane, one way? again I see no issue with doing this east of commercial as that area is residential and obviously since I live on Frances st I am thinking about that. late to the party on this one, but hoping you can answer my questions, thanks.

  3. jakking says:

    Thanks for your interesting comments, Jen. I will pass them on to the folks who were behind this project and see what they have to say.

  4. DDB says:

    Hi Jen, I respect your concerns and, as I wasn’t party to the devt & design of the Greenways plan, I cannot comment on what was or was not considered. However, as a resident of Venables Street, I can say clearly that we are a residential street above Commercial Drive, and it used to be residential all the way down to and through Strathcona.

    I have admired what has been done on Dundas to permit traffic between Renfrew and Nanaimo, yet slow it down with bulges and centre pieces. I would like to see more of that along Venables between Clark & Victoria. I would like to see Venables discouraged as an arterial, as all that traffic on Victoria and Venables is racing through children, parents with strollers, dog walkers, runners, cyclists, etc. I cannot tell you the number of times I have almost been run over by offended (get that!!!) drivers trying to turn onto Venables from Victoria when I am jogging across the street on the walk signal.

    I also think that this conversation will be determined when the viaduct plan is being formulated. These kind of discussions will hinge on that discussion but should definitely be included.

  5. Bumper ride. says:

    That is the route the City Hall has for the freeway to the 401, though more along Williams Street.

    And the Dundas “calmings” don’t work. Cars go at 50, 60 70 km/hr still. It is is the route from Renfrew to Dundas (the main road connecting to Powell and downtown) when McGill is blocked.

    You want to see calming, check the super-bumps along Cambridge and Oxford from 3700 to 4700 blocks. Hit those things and you lose teeth and the bottom of your car.

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