This article was published originally on the Vancouver Observer on August 4, 2015.

TALK OF THE TOWN: If city planners have their way, viaducts are doomed

By Vancouver Observer staff, August 4, 2015, 

It's been called a 43-year mistake that severed communities and turned city neighbourhood roads into major downtown arteries. Now the City of Vancouver is looking at taking down the twin viaduct freeway-to-nowhere.

What happens with all that land and traffic is up for discussion, with public consultation that includes a free lunchtime public presentation this Thursday (July 6) at SFU downtown. 

Holly Sovdi, the city's lead urban planner for downtown, and Devan Fitch, lead transportation engineer for the Viaducts Project, will be presenting the plan, leaving time for members of the public to weigh in, 12:30-1:30 p.m., room 1600, Harbour Centre, 515 Hastings St. (Bring your lunch.)

A representative of ReConnect Vancouver, a grassroots citizens’ organization supporting a new future for the top end of False Creek, has also been invited.

Two years ago, a unanimous Vancouver city council asked staff to prepare a report on the condition of the Georgia and Dunsmuir Viaducts and to explore what opportunities might exist if they were to be removed. The staff report will go to council in September, following public consultations.

The plan is designed to remove the viaducts’ physical and psychological barrier that, since the 1970s, has separated Chinatown, Strathcona, Crosstown, and the False Creek neighbourhoods. The two elevated roadways were part of a 1960s freeway plan that was abandoned after mainly Chinatown and Strathcona residents won a long, hard fight to save their communities.

The extensive report looks at costs of retaining the viaducts, and the benefits and challenges of removing them. It recommends replacement with at-grade roadways, provision for significant affordable rental and rental housing, major expansion of parks, pedestrian and bicycle routes, cultural and sports opportunities, and a new connection from Georgia Street to a reconfigured Pacific Boulevard.