VANCOUVER -- Dozens of people rallied on Prior Street Monday morning urging the city not to make it an arterial route after the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts come down.
Vancouver city council is set to decide the future of Prior Street at its meeting Tuesday. A report being presented asks councillors to endorse a Prior/Venables Street underpass to accommodate diverted traffic after the viaducts, twin bridges linking downtown with East Vancouver, are removed.
It's part of the False Creek Flats Rail Corridor Strategy, a transportation project to expand rail capacity between Vancouver's port and the False Creek Flats railyard.
But residents and local business owners in Strathcona made it clear Monday that they want the city to prioritize safety in their neighbourhood.
"The current recommendation to upgrade Prior/Venables into a full-fledged arterial does not align with the city's four previous commitments to make it less dangerous by returning it to a neighbourhood street, as it was designed," Penny Crawford with the Strathcona Residents' Association said in a news release.
"Arterials don’t belong on local, neighbourhood streets. They're simply too dangerous," added Coun. Pete Fry.
The Strathcona Residents' Association pointed to crash data from ICBC to support their demands to calm the street. There were 498 collisions on Prior Street between 2013 and 2017, and nearly half of those resulted in injury or death, according to ICBC.
The proposed Prior/Venables Street plan includes wide sidewalks, street greenery and curb bulges to reduce vehicle speeds and improve walkability. The report also asks councillors to adopt a 30 kilometre-per-hour speed limit near Strathcona Park.
It's not the plan supported by most residents, according to a city memorandum from a community panel. The panel suggested more residents supported National Avenue and Charles Streets taking on the diverted viaduct traffic.
But the National/Charles option was more expensive, and although it was supported by residents, it wasn't favoured by "many stakeholders or other impacted businesses," according to the city report.