Mr. Mayor, tear down this wall! (in colour)

by Charles Montgomery on

Vancouver planners and engineers have come up with a compelling plan for removing the Georgia and Dunsmuir  Viaducts. If realized, this plan will replace an underused fragment of freeway infrastructure with neighbourhoods, parks, and one grand boulevard. Take a look at their gorgeous presentation, above. Whoever produced it should at least get the prize just for their sexy PowerPointing:

Interestingly, the team starts by making an economic case: that the viaducts are money-suckers. But look closely at the renderings. They include creative solutions for traffic, including a grand boulevard ramp to get cars from almost sea level up the escarpment to downtown. There seems to be a bike bridge in there, too. The selling points:

-big parks, beautifully connected to Chinatown and the DTEastside

-big real estate lift: turning the blocks east of Gore into grid of towers and mid-rise

-minimized construction disruption: by fusing and nudging Pacific and Expo Boulevards, the Big New Road avoids the snarl created where the Skytrain line currently dips almost to ground level

Some thoughts:

-By putting all its eggs into one big park, the plan short-changes eastern neighbourhoods. The block east of Main Street should be considered for a plaza or smaller park. With the opening of The Union, Harvest and other businesses, Union Street is already becoming a vibrant stretch, and people are already using the lawns  north of the viaducts.

-The plan still pours east/west traffic down Prior Street. This is a wound ripping through Strathcona that can be fixed to satisfy both neighbours and commuters–with benefits even for the Port of Vancouver. The new Pacific Boulevard should flow slightly south, into Malkin Street. A bridge at the east end of Malkin to Clark Drive would end conflict at the rail crossing. And Strathcona might become whole again. The city was actually talking with the Feds about this at one point.

-This neighbourhood is ripe for a district energy utility. A small, clean energy plant could burn wood waste brought in by barge, and hook into current systems, thus reducing the need for the gas-fired plant at the west end of the current viaducts (which currently ranks as one of the city’s biggest source of  ghg emissions). If planned creatively, a dock and plant could become a unique feature of the neighbourhood. Greenest City Action Team, get on it!

This is something we should all be talking about:OPEN HOUSE DATES/TIMES HERE