Staff at Vancouver City Hall have made their presentation on proposed changes to the 10th Avenue Health Precinct.
The term refers to the stretch of 10th avenue running between Cambie and Oak Streets, through the heart of Vancouver’s medical district, including Vancouver General Hospital, a variety of Vancouver Coastal Health facilities, and the B.C. Cancer Centre.
Nearly 3,800 patients flow through the precinct on a daily basis.
The stretch is the part of the city’s second busiest cycle thoroughfares, and the city safety and congestion are becoming serious issues as bike, pedestrian, and car traffic continue to increase.
Now the city is planning a wholesale revamp of the strip, which it says will improve safety and access in the area.
The proposal envisions making traffic from Cambie to Ash St. one-way westbound to cut back on car traffic, and building a separated bike lane to reduce conflict between cyclists and cars.
The city also wants to beef up pedestrian infrastructure, including new sidewalks, lighting, and shorter, raised pedestrian crossings.
Councilor Heather Deal says that focus on pedestrian safety is key to the plan.
“EspThe ecially pedestrians that have mobility issues or perhaps vision issues,” she says.
Deal says the addition of a dozen new pick up/ drop off areas will benefit both drivers and pedestrians.
“Because we know there are a lot of those types of pedestrians the safest thing we can do is keep the modes of transport separate from each other so we need to make sure it’s very clear where cars go and give them a place to go to get out of that circling behaviour that they have now.”
In regards to the proposed bike lane, Vancouver Coastal Health Chief Operating Officer Laura Case says critics and the media spent too much time focusing on what is one element of an overall plan designed to make the area safer.
“Yes there will be a bike lane, but we’re also going to be slowing the traffic down, we’re going to be adding drop off spaces for patients and families, and a real focus on space for people with disabilities.”
The proposal also includes simplifying access to the hospital for emergency vehicles, along with new “hospital zone” signage and road markings.
The changes would come at the cost of 93 metered parking spaces on 10th Avenue and surrounding side streets.
In exchange, the city is proposing to add 116 new parking spaces at a lot at Ash and 10th, along with ten new metered disability spaces on 10th avenue itself.
The first phase of the project comes with a $3-million price tag, funded from the city’s current approved Capital Budget.
Council will vote on the proposal Wednesday, after hearing from speakers.
With files from Jeremy Lye