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Union Street like it’s 1969?



232-240 Union Street in 1969 (across the street from This Space). Photo taken from City of Vancouver Archives.

 

Each time we look out from This Space, we stare at the Prior Street ramp of the Georgia Viaduct, and catch glimpses of vehicle traffic flowing between Downtown and Eastern Vancouver.

The Georgia Viaduct as it currently stands was constructed in 1972 as part of a planned freeway system for Vancouver. Hogan’s Alley, Vancouver’s only black neighbourhood at the time, was bulldozed to make way for the Georgia Viaduct ramp. Strathcona residents, Chinatown businesses, and other activists got together and successfully thwarted further completion of this freeway system which would have cut through other parts of Vancouver’s urban core, namely Chinatown, Downtown Eastside and Gastown.

Over the last 40 years, Vancouver has grown significantly. And the City of Vancouver now wants to redevelop the disconnected False Creek Flats area, located just south of This Space. The City of Vancouver is looking to transform the old industrial sites and railway yards of the Flats area into an economic zone with Green industries. As part of this strategy, there will be decisions soon on appropriate transportation solutions that may reshape or replace the Georgia and Dunsmuir Viaducts.

This Space along with the other businesses on the 200 block of Union Street face both risks and opportunities from these pending decisions. Will construction work to remove the Georgia Viaduct halt the momentum of business investment on Union Street? If enough cyclists vote for This Space to provide a service to them, will this Adanac bike lane commuter traffic then be diverted away from Union Street? On the opportunity side, will the removal of the Georgia Viaduct allow Union Street businesses to flourish as a commercial and social hub, as part of a larger and better connected East Vancouver neighbourhood?

Before the Georgia Viaduct, old houses existed across the street as part of the Hogan’s Alley community. Looking ahead, what will the Union Street park and Georgia viaduct across the street look like when it’s all said and done?

You’re helping build a sustainable business in This Space. So you probably care about the future of the Georgia Viaduct too. To learn about the issues, check out these links:

City of Vancouver re:CONNECT website: http://vancouver.ca/commsvcs/planning/reconnect/index.htm
Spacing Vancouver: http://spacingvancouver.ca/2011/06/16/the-first-georgia-viaduct/

 

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