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Remove viaducts: Councillor

Geoff Meggs wants staff to examine the benefits and costs of removingthe viaducts — what he calls the “vestigial rump” of a rejected plan tobuild a freeway through Vancouver in the 1970s.

A Vancouver councillor wants to curb the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts.

Geoff Meggs wants staff to examine the benefits and costs of removing the viaducts — what he calls the “vestigial rump” of a rejected plan to build a freeway through Vancouver in the 1970s.

“I lived for a number of years in Strathcona, which is where the viaducts land,” Meggs said.

“It’s still very destructive to the neighbourhood.”

Meggs points to other cities, like San Francisco, that have reaped positive benefits from removing elevated freeways. San Francisco, he said, revitalized its waterfront after removing the Embarcadero Freeway that was damaged in the 1989 earthquake.

Meggs said the viaducts are noisy and take up a lot of space. Removing them would be expensive, but could free up five or six blocks of land for development.

It would, however, remove key transportation connections that would have to replaced, he said.

Vancouver should get some idea of what life would be like without the viaducts as they will be closed for almost a month during the Winter Olympics for security reasons.

The city, Meggs added, is embarking, this week, on discussions about the future of Northeast False Creek, the area around B.C. Place and GM Place. A long-term plan for the viaducts would impact development in that area.

There is also an issue with contaminated soil beneath the viaducts from the area’s industrial past.

Megg’s motion goes to council tomorrow. If OK’d, councillors could know by spring how much removing the viaducts could cost and whether it is a viable option.

“A lot of people are worried because they use the viaducts,” he said, “and they worry about goods, transportation and things we need for the long run.

“But people are open to the idea because we’re not talking about eliminating connections here, we’re trying to build better ones.”