HONOUR BOUND: Don’t Let City Hall Pull Another Fast One On Strathcona/Chinatown

June 5, 2013.


If you haven’t already heard, the City Hall is planning to alter traffic and parking patterns on Union Street in Chinatown/Strathcona. It’s kind of a big deal. From what we’ve heard of the situation, pretty much all of the business owners on the block are feeling intentionally excluded from the process, which is especially lame considering that the changes will have a significant impact on their shops and restaurants. It seems City staff may have deliberately misled them by presenting the plan as upgrades to the Adanac Bikeway (between Gore and Carrall) with no mention of changing anything on Union Street. The proposed plan will be presented to Council on June 12th for a vote and it’s expected to move forward.

Apparently, part of the their plan now is to shift from two-way traffic with parking on both sides of the street to one-way westbound only traffic from Gore to Princess with no parking on the south side of the street. This change will significantly increase traffic on Prior and Keefer Streets (the former of which is in dire need of calming). What’s more, Union Street will be closed to westbound access at Main (ie. to Pacific Blvd, Costco in Yaletown, 2nd Ave, et cetera). While there are certainly arguments for and against the proposed changes, residents (including ourselves) and businesses (think The Parker, Benny’s Market, Harvest Community Foods, Charlie & Lee, Department of W.O.W, among a great many others) feel that the City has purposefully avoided consultation in order to ramrod the changes through. No matter what your opinions are on the matter, we think most would agree that this is a really shitty and particularly underhand way of governing.

Accordingly, we’re urging any and all of our readers who might be affected to attend a meeting regarding these proposed changes this Wednesday night. It takes place at 7:15pm in the Strathcona Community Centre (601 Keefer Street). The Director of Transportation, Jerry Doblovrony, will be in attendance to state his case and answer questions.


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  • Chris

    you get about 5 seconds before the “NIMBY” yelling starts. no offense but this happens in every neighbourhood because nobody in Vancouver cares about that happens outside of their neighbourhoods. Anyone who has recently fought changes in Mount Pleasant, Cambie, Gastown, etc can tell you that. If I remember correctly Mr. Orr is pretty good at that chant himself. Sorry but the City will do what it wants, it has proven that time and again. Even if they entire Strathcona hood came out, they’d still do it. Good luck though, I encourage everyone to go to City Hall and witness first hand these discussions just to see how corrupt and useless our Mayor and council are.

  • http://seanorr.tumblr.com/ Sean Orr

    What chant?

  • DAN

    I went to an open house on this matter and had the engineers and city staff almost all to myself. I was surprised more people from the neighbourhood weren’t in attendance, maybe the second night was a packed house. Union being the primary road for the Adanac Bikeway doesn’t feel like a misrepresentation to me – upgrades to the Adanac bikeway would be sure to include Union as Union IS the Adanac bikeway in this section.

    Hopefully all businesses on Union will be at (another) meeting tonight to voice their concerns/support as well. I’m envious of these businesses getting a sweet street upgrade and a more human face on this block.

  • james

    oh please, don’t let Scout and it’s wonderful content become a soapbox/rant for an angry author. We have too many blogs that bitch about changes in the city. I expect more from this blog than one sided complaints about what the City is doing.

  • PT

    The reason more neighbourhood people weren’t at the open houses is because the open houses were billed as safety upgrades to the Adanac Bikeway, not alteration of Union Street. Not the same thing.

    Consider also that the limited open house promotion was marketed specifically to bicycle commuters, not residents or drivers.

  • Stephanie

    Chris has a point about the fruitlessness of neighbourhood-by-neighbourhood organizing when the problem is development money taking priority over neighbourhood livability city-wide. This particular bit of bait-and-switch is about changing traffic patterns so Meggs et. al. can set up that tasty, tasty land currently covered by the viaducts to be sold off. Lots of areas are going to be hooped by the traffic changes if those things come down, but as long as people are only talking about traffic-calming Prior they are going to get nowhere. Organizing needs to be broader and deeper. But this would mean that folks would need to organize across different communities, and right now those communities are pitted against one another, largely along class lines.

    Good times, good times.

  • ACMESalesRep

    I gotta admit, I can’t see the point of these changes. If it’s really to improve the bikeway, there has to be a less disruptive way of doing so.

  • http://seanorr.tumblr.com/ Sean Orr

    Doesn’t it have to do with the city’s long term plan to remove the viaducts? Isn’t this supposed to make everyone happy?

  • Stinky

    How could a project that affects the Adanac Bikeway *not* affect Union Street?

    What I can see is that there were two public hearings in May. If people went to those, they were part of the process.

    I don’t feel a surge of outrage over this based upon what details are given here. I enjoy outrage as much as the next guy, but give me something to work with here.

  • http://rbaxter.blogspot.com rob b

    Union Street is the Adanac bike route. Why do people not understand that? How could an upgrade to the Adanac bike route not include Union street? The people complaining about this sensible plan to improve safety don’t seem to be that knowledgeable about the neighbourhood.

    Other cities have very successful retail zones that are completely car-free. There is no evidence we can’t do the same here.

    Vancouver it is time for us to stop living in some 1950s car-worshipping mindset and catch up to what progressive cities around the world are doing.

    Other cities have been much more aggressive about reducing motor vehicle access compared to what we have done here. And those are the cities that are reducing pollution and reducing GHG emissions.

  • Nati

    Union Street should be a multiple use with a 30km speed attached (including cycles), We should find better ways for all users to co-exist.
    The small business’ need customers. These may come via car, 2 wheeled vehicles, bicycles and even feet.
    I have witnessed on many occasion the activity on the Adanac bike route everyone ducking the speeding cyclists who don’t obey much of the traffic etiquette that vehicles and pedestrians have to dance by. Oh and by the way I do not drive.
    Maybe look for solutions that don’t cost millions, they are out there. Look to European cities that actually have great models.

  • Stinky

    Responding to Nati here…

    Marking a street 30km/hour has little effect on motorist behaviour, so it would be no more than a symbolic gesture.

    It isn’t evident to me that European countries that have pervasive separated paths- Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Stockholm- got those separated paths without spending money to get there. Road features cost money regardless where they are built. Try to imagine a cycle facility like the Adanac at Main in Copenhagen- it simply wouldn’t be allowed.

    It’s true that we have asshole cyclists out there (I’m one, quite frankly). I would argue that it’s because it takes a very aggressive personality to navigate the facilities we have. When we have “everybody” facilities, different kinds of people will be on their bikes. They won’t be limited to the kind of people that are willing to roll the dice at every intersection.

    As for motor vehicles and pedestrians obeying traffic etiquette, I invite you to spend just a few minutes at a stop sign or red light some time and put that assertion to the smell test. Virtually nobody is following the rules. Motor vehicles roll through stop signs and block crosswalks preparing for a right on red. Pedestrians start their crossing after the walk sign starts flashing. And that’s mostly okay- what’s important is that we behave reasonably safely. When a ped or cyclist bends a rule, it rarely endangers other users, something not true of motor vehicles.

    What else is important is that we have adequate facilities for the way people are travelling today and will travel tomorrow. We don’t. We can. We will.

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