Opportunities For Affordable Housing Polarize Opinions On Granville Bridge Connector

Granville Bridge ConnectorPhase 3
If this was truly the worst timeline, like some of our friends joke, then city council would have approved last year’s proposed changes to the 56 year old Granville Street Bridge. Global conditions have likely increased construction costs since then, but the previous centre lane option had plenty of failings. The most obvious is that pedestrian and cyclists would have been surrounded by speeding cars, but later studies also revealed it would not have been able to support an elevator to Granville Island.

Extensive public consultation has also taken place (pg 11), with several rounds of meetings culminating in this final series of open house events and workshops. At the former, Darren and I were joined by over 100 people, though many did not stay long. The majority appeared supportive of this refined West Side Plus option (pg 19), yet some were angry projected costs have risen to between $35- $40 million. Frankly, it was a pretty boring night, but thankfully this workshop was more exciting.

Granville Bridge Connector.jpg

-Source (pg1)
I think most understand that engineers are a unique group of people; who else would take enjoyment from hanging Volkswagen Beetles from bridges? So, I suppose it makes sense the head of the workshop would announce new sessions by strumming on a ukulele. These professional are also quick to adapt, as they will now present a second scaled back option to council that falls within the original $25 million budget. However, what will be withdrawn has still to be determined.

As even small things, like replacing traffic lights at ground level, cost around a million dollars, any cutbacks will be significant. The room bristled at this; no one wanted to see the widened sidewalks, bike lanes, or the traffic lights eliminated. That said, some were willing to see the amount of public art, and gathering spaces (pg 21) reduced, as they believed the bridge should be utilitarian, but others believed it was time to give this crossing a sense of identity.

Granville Bridge Connector North End.jpg

-Source (pg 25)

Despite a lack of funding, it was hoped the proposed means prevention fencing could help accomplish this (pg 23). Which is why attendees were encouraged to decide what they liked better, a picket fence style like the Burrard Bridge, or a tension cable design like the Luminous Veil on Toronto’s Bloor Viaduct. Both had their supporters and detractors, but no one, including city staff, wanted to see something similar to the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge fence.

Ideas ranged from appearances that were spartan, moderns or reflective our region’s marginalized people, but none won conclusive support. Where there appeared to be agreement was at the north end of the bridge, as the connection to Drake Street received strong praise (pg 25). While some felt this complete street concept should be extended down the Granville Strip, others felt it best to wait and see what the impacts were from the removal of the north loops, which was approved in 2017.

Granville Bridge Connector South End.jpg

-Source (pg 28)
In contrast the proposed removal of the southwest loop generated strong concern. As the Broadway Plan may lead to that city-owned land being used for affordable housing, nearby residents were angered about the potential impact to their view. Their preference was the land be designated as a park so it could be transformed like the old southeast loop. This consumed one table for much of the night, and was reflected in frustrations expressed over the West Fifth Avenue realignment (pg 28).

The Broadway Plan will also refine the bike path to West 10th Avenue (pg 29), but many were disappointed there was not a similar connection to West 7th Avenue, or the future Broadway Subway station (pg 30). There were several other views expressed, which we have photographed and published here. Of course, as Councillor Kirby-Yung has noted in her support for this project, public input is important, so make sure to express your thoughts in this quick survey before February 10th, 2020.

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