Crossing the Granville Bridge recently, I was stopped by a woman who was interviewing walkers about a plan already adopted by the city to now spend at least $25 million creating an elevated greenway for walkers and bikers over that bridge. This was part of the public consultation program.
As a taxpayer, I wonder about governments that often adopt plans first with public consultation to follow.
I often use interviews as a research technique in my job so I noticed how cleverly the interview questions were designed to elicit a positive response to the project. They all centred on how wonderful the new greenway would be for the kind of people I very rarely see taking advantage of the similar and costly developments on the Burrard Bridge.
Some very important questions aren’t being asked. This project will be paid for by all the citizens of Vancouver. No one is asking them if they think that a greenway over the bridge is the best use of their tax money.
If we want to improve safety and esthetics in the Granville area, the money would be much better spent on improving conditions on Granville Street north of the bridge. I feel less safe waiting for a bus there than walking across the bridge.
Providing $25 million of modular housing for the homeless or reducing traffic congestion for the vast majority of Vancouverites who still use cars might be other options that voters would put ahead of more construction. That’s particularly true when it means more congestion getting into and out of downtown in order to add to the already expensive and ample bike and pedestrian capacity on the Burrard Bridge two short blocks away.
The city isn’t asking questions like that.
Did Roslyn check whether the City had asked its citizens about their priorities?*
Did she inquire whether it asked about infrastructure generally and about False Creek crossings specifically?*
As a researcher, did she do any research? Did she even read the Granville Bridge Connector report and check the sections on public process?*
Or did she write her own cranky column on a set of assumptions that started with bike bias? Namely hers.
*Finding the reports linked above took literally less than a minute. I’ll leave it to Jeff Leigh to provide more detailed response.