The Footprint of Highways

April 5, 2020

The activists of the City of Vancouver are rightly proud of keeping highways at bay, more or less, in our city.

The always reliable Visual Capitalist has a feature today on the cost certain US cities paid for allowing the growth of highways. They share bird’s eye views of Oakland (1946-2020), Providence (1955-2020), Miami (1961-2020), and Cincinnati (1955-2020), which were swept along in the highways movement:



They note:

“Since 1987, there have been more than 20 urban highway segments removed from downtown cores, neighborhoods and waterfronts, mostly in North America. The pace of removals has picked up significantly and an additional 10 highways are now planned for removal in the United States. During the COVID-19 pandemic, American cities have seen their traffic plummet. Rush-hour trips into cities are taking nearly half the time while some are not even commuting at all. While this situation is likely temporary, it is offering a moment for reflection of how cities operate and whether the car should be at the center of urban planning.”

Many of us hope that Vancouver lives up to its historic role, cancels the demolition of the viaducts, and ignores the call to build a brutal urban highway — in all but name — in its place.

Viaducts, Traffic, and Community Engagement

April 30, 2019

The May monthly meeting of the Grandview Woodland Area Council (GWAC) takes place next Monday at 7:00pm in the Learning Resources Centre room under the Britannia Library.  This is a very important meeting to discuss massive traffic issues facing Grandview over the next decade.  As per their email notice:



Most of you probably know that the idea of removing the viaducts has a long history.  There is some community support for the demolition but much of the impetus comes from Vision Vancouver’s need to satisfy their developer supporters by providing more land for their profit.  There has been significant opposition to the demolition from East Vancouver and areas east of us who consider the viaducts a primary and convenient access to the city. I suspect we have not yet heard the end of this battle, especially if this still-newish Council can finally show their muscle and start directing the Vision holdovers in senior City staff positions rather than simply acquiescing to whatever the bureaucrats propose.

However, the survival or not of the viaducts is intimately connected with the question of traffic east of Gore, and how that traffic will affect Grandview.  This was the issue that Vision Vancouver (interested only, I believe, in the development aspects) could never solve. They eventually decided to use a so-called Community Panel to cover their asses on the decision.  From what I hear from the GWAC rep who attended, this Panel was as pointless as the Citizens Assembly they foisted on us during the Community Plan.

Given both the history and the importance of the viaducts/traffic issue, Monday’s meeting should not be missed!

East Of The Viaducts: The Question Still

May 2, 2018

Five full years ago, I wrote about the stupidity (or crass profiteering) of demolishing the viaducts without having any real idea of what happens to the traffic east of Main. In his haste to bring down the viaducts in the service of his developer cronies, I likened Geoff Meggs to Wile E. Coyote, always running off the edge of a cliff in his eagerness to do evil.

I was reminded of this when reading today’s Tyee article about the City “Offloading” the traffic decision to a “Community panel” based on GW’s discredited Citizens’ Assembly.

From what I can gather from the article, the demolition of the viaducts is a done deal (subject of course to the upcoming election) but the vexing matter of what then happens to the east end traffic is being punted not to the elected Councilors, not to the experts we already pay in Planning and Transportation, not to expensive outside experts, but “to a community panel who may or may not have knowledge of transportation planning, and who may or may not have access to the amount of detailed information needed to make such a complex decision.”

This panel is to be given three options for getting traffic from Main to Clark, each of which includes a major negative issue:  1.  William Street, cutting through Strathcona Park; 2. Malkin Avenue, the original contender but subject to destroying the successful Produce Row industry; and 3. National Avenue, considered by many to be too far south, emerging too close to First and Clark.

The writer in the Tyee is clear that in her opinion, the decision should be made by experts (“Let’s not put a panel of community members into the uncomfortable and unpaid position of choosing one of the three evils.”).

My opinion is that we need to start again, revisit the whole question of the viaducts and their viability, ignore the nagging from the Aquilini’s and others who are impatient to build more towers there, and use a working group of interested residents from each of the neighbourhoods affected, assisted (but only assisted) by professional planners, to create an overall plan with or without the viaducts as they so determine.