Will West End residents face the brunt of Gregor's Gridlock?
One of the great things about this blog is that as every month passes, not only does our readership grow (we just surpassed the quarter million page views), but the amount of feedback and ideas we get from citizens increases exponentially. First it was the feedback and tips we started getting from the good residents living in Downtown Vancouver near Beach and Howe. They started telling us of their neighbourhood being transformed from a picturesque waterfront community into a hellzone after Mayor Robertson rammed in a no-barrier HEAT shelter without any consultation.
Now we're also hearing from additional citizens in the West End who are beginning to feel like Downtown residents are under attack again from Vision's trademarked No Consultation Council™. They are complaining Vision has done little (if anything) to consult with them regarding the upcoming closure of a southbound lane on the Burrard Bridge effective July 13th. As we reported earlier, a new "act now, consult later" policy seems to be the norm at City Hall these days. After all, who needs to consult when you know that morally your decisions are the right thing to do.
In a few weeks, you will see Vision's ideology on full display for about 3 months (or less if citizens go ape) when they open up a new bike lane on Burrard Bridge and shut down one vehicle lane. If all goes well, Vision hopes tens of thousands of Vancouverites will simply jump in their SUV and head over a few extra kilometres to either Main Street or the Granville Street bridge every day to avoid Burrard. Did I not mention this is an environmental initiative..? I digress.
If things go poorly, you'll see thousands of backed up commuters dialing 311 to get vent their frustration to the Mayor and council regarding Gregor's Gridlock. But the one group of people who seem to have been lost in this whole debate are the residents who live in the neighbourhoods adjacent the north end of the bridge. Not unlike the residents near the HEAT shelter, I suspect you will hear a LOT from them in the coming weeks if the following email to us is any indication.
In response to a diagram in the Vancouver Sun this past week, where it showed a barricade at Hornby/Pacific where the current right turn is made towards Beach, I called the Engineer in charge of the Burrard Bridge closing, and asked him the logic behind doing this. He said it was to allow cyclists coming off the bridge safer access to Hornby Street. I asked if they had considered taking them up Burrard Street to Drake and having them access Hornby that way - thus preventing the need for closure of Hornby Street going south to West End residents/visitors in particular. The answer was “No”.
When it was pointed out to him that the new traffic pattern would increase the number of cars going by the condos on Pacific/ Howe Street, "Pomaria", who had already had to put up with the Mayors HEAT shelters arriving in their neighborhood, he said he hadn’t known about the “shelters” before making the decision. And his response was “If you move downtown you have to expect traffic”!
I asked him if there had been any consultation with the affected neighbors or West Enders that would be impacted by the new traffic route. He said that “when the City does something temporary they don’t do that kind of consultation or nothing would get done” “Oh!, I said, “I thought the City had hoped was to make the Burrard Bridge cycle lane permanent!”
Our Beach Avenue building recently discovered after reading in the Vancouver Sun, that there was a proposal for the closing Beach from Denman, Cornwall/Point Grey to Jericho Park every Sunday during the summer. It was being brought to Council the next day. The closure would allow cyclist clear access along the closed roads. It is called “Ciclovia”
We pointed out that a road closure every Sunday in the summer would trap Beach Ave, Cornwall, Pt Grey and Kits Point residents in their homes!! Three of us presented opposition at the Council Transportation meeting. There was also no budget for policing! If we had not spoken up Ciclovia would just have proceeded to the next phase. With no consultation of the affected residents again!!
How does it “green” our city to have cars drive further one block to Howe, then retuning one block further along Beach while impacting unsuspecting residents, All this just to accommodate a few cyclists.
What happened to public consultation on these issues? Miniparks, Seawall cycle paths, changes to Pacific Boulevard all had wonderful public input using staffed tents in the Beach Ave park or displays at the Roundhouse.
I ask……who is running this city without consultation? Certainly not the taxpayers!!!
As commuters start heading home effective July 13th, they will only have two lanes to exit the city via the Burrard Bridge, rather than three. I'm not an engineer, but I suspect it will take some time for the 70,000 daily commuters to change their habits to accommodate the Mayor's latest ideological fancy, if ever.
In terms of consultation with local residents, we were curious as to what had taken place so we called the City to find out. Surprisingly, our calls were not returned as of Saturday morning. More silence from City Hall.
If traffic is gridlocked on the north end of the bridge, it will be local residents that will be most affected as neighbourhood streets will be all but shut down. Pity the residents who once enjoyed living in these vibrant waterfront communities who are now dealing with drug dealers, public sex acts and now potentially gridlock.
In less than six months, Mayor Robertson may has already stirred up a major hornets' nest with two downtown neighbourhoods densely packed with voters who may well have a long memory when it comes to the next civic election.
On a related note, I'm hearing grumblings the cycling community (via social media networks) are working behind the scenes to make sure the bridge is "packed with cyclists" on July 13th in order to make a good show for the news cameras. The last thing they want is thousand of vehicles plugged back up on Burrard while the news media and their traffic helicopters capture only a few cyclists casually making their way home.
The "Battle on Burrard" has yet to heat up. My prediction is this Vision council will ram the lane closures in like they did the HEAT shelters and it will take a loud voice from Vancouver voters to make even an iota of difference. But remember folks, the civic politicians closing lanes on Burrard Bridge believe they have a moral leg up on people like you and I, so they won't change their mind without a fight.