Our Plea to City Council

On July 22, city staff were kind enough to come out to meet with some of the members of the community who are upset at the redirection of traffic through the  already congested 1 block residential streets of Milross and National.  The number of vehicles is at issue.  At the meeting staff mentioned 2,000+, but the number on the city web site cites 5,000 per day.

Our request at that meeting was that Mr Dubrovolny advise Council that the community is very much at odds with Council’s decision and request that Council delay its decision until there is a solution which better meets the needs of residents.  This request was denied.
The purpose of this email is to summarize the facts as we know them, for your further consideration.
1.  Lack of Prior Knowledge and Consultation
1.1. The Joint Working Group on Northeast False Creek (JWG), meets regularly.  This would have been an ideal forum for staff to engage in community consultation.  By the time members of the community were aware enough to bring this item to the attention of the Planning Staff managing the JWG process,  the city’s plan was already formed.  Active Transportation Staff did volunteer to attend our meeting ‘for information’, but at no point were we asked for input.
1.2  The FCRA is well-known to city staff.  We are available 24/7 through our web site.  At no point did Active Transportation staff contact the FCRA for input or advice.
1.3.  The Citygate Inter-tower Community Group, representing the 13 buildings in the Citygate community, is well-known to the city.  At no point did Active Transportation staff contact the Inter-Tower Group for input, however many other city staff continue to contact the Inter-tower group to assist in information dissemination on other issues.
2.  Inadequate and Misleading Information
2.1.  Information was posted in the community about “upgrades to the Adanac Bikeway”.  Most members of our community have no association between that title and the threats to Milross and National.  Perhaps Vancouverites coming from the East will connect that title with Union Street, but for locals in Citygate, no connection can be assumed.
2.2.   The City’s web site (http://vancouver.ca/files/cov/adanac-bikeway-open-house-info-boards.PDF) misleads the public.  The information Board for Section B-B shows one lane of vehicular traffic from Main to Quebec.  It was NOT made clear that this section of Union street would be closed to vehicles.
2.3. The rhetoric on the city’s information boards and the motion passed by Council speaks to ‘removing Union Street from the Regional Truck Route  network’ .  This is quite different from closing the street to ALL vehicles.  Again, as mentioned in 2.2 above, the information boards specify the Regional Truck Network, not all vehicles.
2.4.  The city bases its decisions on data from ICBC.  That data is obviously limited to incidents in which ICBC claims are involved.  At our public meeting, there were at least two accidents noted which would not have been in the ICBC data base.   Both incidents occurred on the already busy and congested 1 block of National.  One collision involved a cyclist, the second involved a pedestrian.  Although both accidents involved serious personal injury, neither was reported to ICBC.
2.5.  The city’s use of ICBC data in decision-making has serious limitations.  It is critical that staff develop more effective and accurate data collection strategies.  Obviously, one such strategy is to take community consultation and engagement seriously.  Staff go out to the community with seemingly intransigent pre-formed plans. The community is asked to endorse the plans, not have input into them.
This is NOT about cyclists vs motorists vs pedestrians.  As was evident at the meeting, many of our residents are avid cyclists.  As one of our residents put it:  “I have a wife and two small children.  None of us have drivers’ licenses”.  This is about community safety.
If Union Street is closed, the 5,000 cars and trucks will find their way to Keefer, Milross, National.  Why is the City redirecting car and truck traffic from a street that has no residences to residential streets that are home to many children and families, and two child care centres?
Staff could not answer this question.  Staff provided no evidence that the situation for Milross or National or Keefer was taken into account in their recommendations to Council.  Again, we urge City Council to reconsider its decision until a better solution can be found – one that does not put our community at risk.
As previously informed by Councillor Meggs, we do appreciate that Council depends on staff to come forward with well-researched and well-founded information.  However, in this case, we urge you to reconsider your direction to staff.  Instead of proceeding to close Union Street, please  ask that they seek at better solution.
Fern Jeffries
Co-Chair, FCRA

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