A Vancouver councillor is at odds with a proposed plan to give City engineers the power to make changes to roads without council approval.
A new staff report pitching the plan says it is meant to allow walking, cycling, and transit improvements and safety projects to proceed more efficiently.
But George Affleck says he’s concerned that nothing appears to be off limits to engineers.
“Bike lanes, they can change sidewalks, and they can change parking. This is a significant shift at city hall,” he says.
“It provides the engineering department [the power] to put it in, in any streets around the city.”
Affleck adds he worries the proposal would cut the public out of the decision making process.
“Within the report there’s no clarity on the breadth of which the staff can go, there is no limit to how or what the streets they can impact and change. It’s basically a carte blanche ability for the engineering staff to do what they want without any public input.”
But Vancouver’s Manager of Transportation Planning Dale Bracewell says the public will still have a say.
“We’re absolutely pressing that consultation will always be a constant and that all the major transportation network decisions, it would be staff’s intent to bring to City Council for their resolution.”
Bracewell says the proposed changes are in response to the city’s Transportation 2040 plan, and that bigger projects like bike lanes on Commercial Drive would still be left in the hands of council.
“We’ve noted in the report and are absolutely committed as staff to do all the consultations that we should be,” Bracewell says.
“We’re not suggesting any change in that, and if we were, we’d do more consultations. Ultimately what the consultation is about is following through on what council’s transportation polices are.”
As for Affleck’s concerns about the lack of clarity over what the city’s chief engineer will green light, Bracewell says the intent is focused on local spot improvements.
The report goes to council on Tuesday.