GWAC: Transportation and Britannia Renewal

There was a another very interesting meeting at GWAC yesterday evening.

GWAC Director Craig Ollenberger gave a report on various transportation issues facing Grandview-Woodland.  These included:

  • the closure of 1st Avenue for two months this summer between Nanaimo and Clark; it was noted that pedestrians and bikes will still be allowed;
  • an extension of the MOBI bike rental service east to Victoria. It has not yet been announced where bike rental stations will be positioned in the neighbourhood;
  • a discussion about the possibility of mobility/congestion pricing for road use in Metro. Craig pointed out that as more vehicles use less gas, the government needs to replace the revenue from gas taxes;
  • there has been talk about improving pedestrian crossings, but few details yet;
  • a traffic study is being undertaken at the Triangle; this led to a spirited debate about the need for a much wider traffic study throughout the eastern half of the ‘hood, and the particular issues facing 7th and 8th avenues where accidents are occurring on a regular basis due to speeding through traffic. It was noted that a study should take place in view of the increased density planned for GW.  It was agreed that GWAC will assist residents to approach the City about these problems, using its previous experience in calming Napier and Victoria;

GWAC Secretary Susan Briggs reported on correspondence with Strathcona Residents Assoc (SRA) and others regarding noise  from the railways crossing our neighbourhoods. This has to do with the expansion of the Port of Vancouver. SRA seeks to have the project subject to the Provincial Environmental; Assessment process which is more stringent than the Federal process.  So far, the Provincial government’s position is that this is Federal jurisdiction and they have no power to intervene. GWAC will continue to monitor this issue.

Susan also reported on the growing number of GW lots being swept up in real estate/development assemblies, and complaints that GWAC has received from residents across the district.

This led to a vigorous discussion about the City’s Rate of Change policy and its failure to protect the vast pool of affordable rental suites in GW’s so-called “single family housing”.

There was also a discussion about the proposed housing project at 1st and Clark. It was agreed that the project should at the very least reflect the scale of surrounding buildings.

The second half of the meeting was a presentation by Executive Director Cynthia Low of the Britannia Community Services Centre.  She announced the public unveiling of the outside consultants’ Britannia Renewal Master Plan at an Open House this coming Saturday.   Two of the major issues still not determined are the type and number — if any — of housing on the Britannia site (something on which the City is insistent), and whether there should be one or two ice rinks.

The previous Open House had presented three concepts for renewing the site. The consultants have taken the public comments on each concept and will present a single idea this weekend, including massing and phasing plans.

Cynthia also announced that the Britannia Board will present its own response to the Master Plan, noting that the Board is just one of the partners in the project — along with the City, the School Board, the Library Board, and the Parks Board — each of whim has their own agendas and priorities. The Board wants to make sure that whatever changes come to Britannia, the site’s historic and highly successful inclusive and welcoming atmosphere is not damaged by new additions.

This was a very useful meeting, full of interesting and usable information. It showed how well GWAC can be a forum for neighbourhood discussion, and a dispersal point for information.  It was particularly good to see new members coming to their first meeting and participating actively.

 

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