I keep wondering how long it will take before the Vancouver media connect the dots.
One casualty of the do-more-with-less denigration of news coverage has been the elimination by many Vancouver news outlets of a dedicated City Hall bureau, so issues get reported in isolation: bicycle lanes, parking meters, the Dunsmuir/Georgia viaducts.
City Hall beat reporters (where I incidentally began my journalistic career in this city) would see the overall picture, the unspoken underlying long-term plan and plotting by politicians and their subservient bureaucrats, and connect the dots.
Almost no one is doing that these days in Vancouver. So I will.
Make no mistake about it: Vancouver City Hall is at war with motorists … has been for some time …and is slowly, purposely making driving into the downtown peninsula a miserable, long drawn out and extremely costly venture.
And while that might seem wonderful to Vision’s political constituency … carless residents, cyclists, and those who just hate “the car”, it does not serve the interests of downtown storefront businesses, restaurants or retailers or the thousands of companies that occupy those high-tax-paying office towers that fund so much of Vancouver’s operating costs.
But once again, under Vision, ideology trumps rationality and fairness.
And how ironic.
The same “leaders” who ignore or reject all reason and even statistical facts to protect the bike-lane blockades on Hornbyand Dunsmuir Streets used by only a few hundred cyclists a day (or even fewer during Fall and Winter months) are now looking at tearing down the Dunsmuir and Georgia viaducts, used by a whopping 40,000 vehicles, carrying more than 50,000 people a day.
How hypocritical! Cater incessantly to the interests of a few hundred they favour, while pursuing a new major daily hardship on 50,000 others they’ve exploited more and more for years now.
Of course, there will be “consultation” … no doubt “Vision style” , with the results to come AFTER the next civic election and bulldozers ready to go within hours of the “consultation” ending and council voting to tear the viaducts down.
And just think of the possibilities: it’s not an area where heavy industry could or would be built, especially without dedicated commercial or heavy truck capable roadways; it’s not likely to have great market value for light industry, with a huge tract of land east of Main and north of the Via Rail station already sitting empty/unused for decades.
No, the geniuses at City Hall … probably the only elected and appointed officials who could lose up to $300 million on building housing on waterfront property abutting downtown in the hottest real estate market in North America … will no doubt go for another massive heavily publicly regulated and designed housing devel0pment ..with, of course, hundreds of social housing units. Here we go again!!! Ka-ching! Ka-ching!
Just think of that.
Who in their right mind would want to build …or buy…housing as close as those viaducts are to the NOISE and TRAFFIC of the 62,000-seat BC Place football and concert stadium AND the 20,000-seat Rogers arena. Existing neighbours SEVERAL blocks away already can’t escape the terrible impact … and have complained to City Hall, and yet, the ideolgues seem determined to add more… much closer to both venues. Brilliant!
I can already hear the babies crying, the kids wailing and the parents protesting the daily or weekly disruptions to their “quality of life”. And city officials will then come up with new brilliant proposals … like moving the arena/stadium out ..or how about tearing down the far-too-loud retractable roof and replacing it with a solid soundproof ceiling. There goes another $600 million (probably $800 million by then).
And where are the 40,000 vehicles that use the viaducts daily to go? Onto Pacific and Expo Boulevards? (Ready for that EXTRA traffic every day in both directions, folks?) .
Or maybe along the newly designated 18-mile-an-hour speed limited Hastings Street? Talk about rush-hour chaos. Another typical Vision response, by the way: jaywalking a problem? Slow down the traffic to 18 mph. What’s next? The same for Pender, Robson, Davie, Denman, Commercial? Victimize the motorists …not control or discipline the jaywalkers.
Or how about directing the 40,000 cars along the roads to be built through the newly-developed residential area that the viaducts now traverse , complete with traffic lights, pedestrian crossings etc . Talk about all the extra air pollution and carbon emissions wafting up to the new units! And judging by the sloping terrain, with so many automobiles stopping at intersections, puffing away, every morning and evening Vancouver could even create its own mini Fraser Valley!
Of course, I don’t believe any of that matters to Vision MORE than just making it miserable for the motorist ..and eventually getting rid of the car from the downtown.
Sound over the top?
Well, just this past week …apparently late, late at night…Vision council endorsed a new “Green City Action Plan” … and here are two of the stated goals for the city over just the next 8 years:
“Make the majority of trips (over 50%) on foot, bicycle, and public transit. Reduce distance driven per resident by 20% from 2007 levels.
Advance parking policies that encourage a reduction in vehicle ownership and driving, support sustainable transportation choices, and increase housing affordability near transit.
Continue to reduce off street parking requirements, and implement maximum allowances. “
And that’s only part of Vision’s war plan against motorists.
In my last blog, I wrote how a restaurateur had cried the blues to me about how parking meters, outside her small family-run eatery, had increased in both prices and extended in hourly enforcement right up to 10 p.m. …. really hurting her business.
I realize parking meters are a necessary daytime evil to regulate and make available parking spaces for customers of downtown stores and businesses. At first, though, the pay period ended at 6 a.m. and was not applied on Sundays. Then that changed to seven days a week and they raised the rates, looking more like a tax grab more than a space use regulating mechanism.
Then they extended the operating hours up to 8 p.m. But even that wasn’t enough for the City…. so they extended the charge period to 10 p.m. Clearly, motorists are not welcome in Vancouver, day or night. And to hell with the businesses that lose out because of City Hall’s greed.
There is no doubt that extending parking meter enforcement from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. and charging up to $6 an hour has hurt downtown restaurants, especially in the evenings (on top of the HST). No wonder some long-time downtown dining fixtures (Rex, Aqua Riva, The Keg and others) have closed down.
And it’s not just affecting the downtown.
Yesterday, I drove (shocking!!!) to another very small business I have frequented for years on Broadway, East of Main …and there they were …. brand new parking meters, where there had been none for a hundred years! And they’re the new type too….that take credit cards … a sure sign of even more expensive parking rates to come.
It has become obvious Vision sees motorists’ pockets as bottomless pits: captive victims who have no real choice but to pay and pay and pay.
What’s next … parking meters on all residential streets? Or back lanes? If not, I’ll bet they’ll also be hiking those “Residential Parking Permits” into the stratosphere after the next civic election … if Vision wins.
And that’s just part of the current Vancouver City Council’s war on the car …. being carried on by those in the bunker at Twelfth and Cambie, despite any civilian costs.
Take the Berlin-walled bike lanes.
I don’t think many would object to the idea of increased bicycle use in Vancouver: a good idea from the point of view of reducing vehicular traffic, pollution and even increased health benefits. But unlike other cities, where bicycling is a highly successful alternative, Vision couldn’t be satisfied with painted bike lanes on roadways; opting instead for a $3 million bullying program of concrete barriers, curbing and interfering with traffic flow, removing parking, taking away turn lanes and even turns themselves, and virtually destroying direct access to many, many businesses.
Now a study has proved the Hornby/Dunsmuir bike lanes have resulted in $2.4 million in sales … some businesses reporting decreases up to 30% … a “moderate” impact, say City Hall officials. Bet if they owned a business and saw sales drop 30%, they wouldn’t regard itas “moderate”. Not to mention businesses that have closed down completely …and left the area.
In my opinion, it is a perfect example of Vision’s vision: to hell with the motorists and businesses and Vancouver’s economic health , as it caters blindly to its far-left ideology.
Too bad there aren’t enough regular City Hall “beat” reporters to stay on top of this.