First Accounting

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How the City of Vancouver Cheaps Out on Norquay (Lesson #1)

Seeing is Disbelieving

Following this paragraph are two pretty pictures that Vancouver city planners showed to Norquay residents when they were pretending to “consult” at open houses held in June 2010 and February 2011.

[Specific reference to and direct reproduction of content from two panels is provided — but not live linkage, because the City of Vancouver (CoV) web site took a sharp turn toward the dark side in 2012 by breaking linkages, by discontinuing information, by making existing data harder to find, and by raising serious uncertainty about continuing access to data that used to be there.]

Panel 19  —  Kingsway Street Design Improvements  —  June 2010


Panel 7  —  Kingsway: What Could It Look Like with Increased Height and Density?  —  February 2011


And now it’s time to look at an actual recent photo looking east along a stretch of Kingsway in the recently “upgraded” Norquay portion. [Incidental — be sure to notice the dramatic impact of the fancy new streetlight poles, also depicted in Panel 7 of 2011.]


In the interest of equal time for reality, here’s a second actual recent photo looking westward:


Trying to Make Sense of It All

If you attempt to assess recent City of Vancouver (CoV) “streetscape improvements” (along Kingsway from Knight Street to beyond Earles Street), you start with the profound challenges of wallowing around in the swamps of CoV disinformation.

Once you manage to find it (if you ever do) — The Road Ahead — Projects and Events Map opens a gateway to otherwise unsearchable nonindexed-darkweb information. Then a search for Projects: Completed in year 2012 and for Keyword/Street: Kingsway spits back 16 records (search done on 26 Dec 2012). The 16 records fit together like some demented jigsaw puzzle, and leave a poor feet-on-the-pavement local observer wondering where the missing pieces ever went to. Not to mention how the overlaps are supposed to jibe. [Oh. Maybe the missing Kingsway stuff is “in process” because not completed yet? Nope, nothing still in process for Kingsway.]

The four records reproduced below as Appendix A indicate that the 2012 Kingsway work is Status: Completed. A walk along Kingsway reveals various little messes strung out along the project area. That seems to be what CoV likes to call complete. Who can tell if or when any of the messes are supposed to disappear? (Documentation will follow if they do not.)

The Biggest Lesson

Perhaps the biggest lesson comes from taking a look along the entire length of Kingsway in Vancouver, one example being the 2012 improvements of “paving Kingsway between E 11th Avenue and E 13th St. from August 1- 6, 2012.” A broad improvement effort along Kingsway has taken place over the last couple of years, even for areas outside Kingsway & Knight and Norquay, the two “neighborhood centres” subjected to mass rezonings. Conclusion: the “streetscape improvements” that city planners so love to harp on as payback for mass-rezoned local communities are nothing special. Indeed, they amount to (a) overdue routine maintenance (b) window dressings that may enhance developer marketability of and profits on new towers.

Doing the Numbers

It gets worse. The Norquay Plan [1] that council imposed on unhappy residents in November 2010 specified certain improvements in some detail, with drawings. The section for “Street Geometric Design” (Appendix B, 7-10; pdf 71-74) is mostly drawings, but starts off with fatal weasel words “preliminary geometric designs … refinements may occur.” Would anyone be surprised that the delivery proved to be definitively LESS and not more? Below is an accounting for median trees sketched versus median trees delivered along Kingsway in Norquay.

Location               Sketched         Delivered

West of Nanaimo St        4                 3
East of Nanaimo St        7                 5
West of Slocan St         6                 5
East of Slocan St         4                 4
West of Earles St         5                 4
East of Earles St         5                 4

Total Trees              31                25 

The figures above suggest systematic misrepresentation in depicting what might be “given” to Norquay. In one case equal, in every other case less. Severe graphic distortions of reality at the Norquay open houses have been exacerbated on the ground by crass underdelivery. [Another underdelivery has already been documented in Landscaped Median.]

Getting Ever Uglier

A glance down the road at the roughly comparable Kingsway & Knight (St. Catherines St to Commercial St) neighbourhood centre shows that, in terms of median street trees along Kingsway, the first “neighbourhood centre” enjoyed considerably more median tree planting.

Location                        Trees

Inverness to Clark               14
Clark to Knight                  11
Knight to Dumfries               14
Dumfries to King Edward           7

Total Trees                      46 

In absence of data, which is impossible to obtain from the bunkers of CoV, all that remains possible is speculation. City of Vancouver experience with the costs and difficulties of delivering the more extensive median planting to Kingsway & Knight appears to have led to serious cheaping out on the second time around in Norquay.

[1]  Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Plan (November 2010)

Appendix A

A lot of Knight Street to Victoria Drive falls within these two records:

Project: Streets Construction
Location: KINGSWAY
Start Date: 2012/06/25
Completion Date: 2012/08/07
Status: Completed
Description: The paving project on Kingsway from Knight to Victoria will begin the week of June 25, 2012. Concrete work will be scheduled first with repairs to the damaged sidewalks and curbs at various locations. This work will also include the installation of curb ramps. The work is expected to last about 6 weeks followed by paving. § There will be minor delays to traffic during construction and parking restrictions will be in place when the crews are working on particular blocks.
Posted: 2012/05/15
Updated: 2012/08/07 by Brian Charleston

Location: KINGSWAY From Knight St to Victoria Dr
Start Date: 2012/10/16
Completion Date: 2012/10/16
Status: Completed
Description: City crews will be working at Kingsway from Knight Street to Victoria Drive for grinding and paving work from Oct 16, 2012 to October 21, 2012. Road closures will be in effect from 7:00am to 6:00pm (Monday to Friday) and 7:00am to 6:00pm (Saturday and Sunday). Traffic delays are expected and motorists are advised to take alternate routes.
Posted: 2012/10/16
Updated: 2012/10/16 by Emma Mendoza-Isip

Next comes an attempt to move eastward along Kingsway.

Project: Streets Construction
Location: KINGSWAY
Start Date: 2012/06/25
Completion Date: 2012/08/13
Status: Completed
Description: Winvan Paving will be working on 2300 E 30 Avenue installing new curb, gutter and sidewalks on both sides of the street from Nanaimo to E 33rd Avenue. Once this work is complete they will be reconstructing and paving the street. § Parking restrictions will be in place during construction but parking will be allowed on evenings and weekends. Local traffic only will be allowed on E 30 Avenue during concrete works.
Posted: 2012/06/21
Updated: 2012/08/13 by Brian Charleston

To get anywhere east of East 33rd Avenue and/or Slocan Street, this record offers the only hope:

Project: Norquay Village Visioning — Kingsway from Sidney to Dundee
Location: Kingsway from Sidney to Dundee
Start Date: 2012/07/03
Completion Date: 2012/12/30
Status: Completed
Description: PROJECT SCOPE: Upgrades to sidewalk, curbs and corner ramps at various locations (includes bulges and minor street realignment). § Traffic signal upgrades on Kingsway at Gladstone/Nanaimo/Slocan/Duchess/Rhodes/Earles § New street lighting and pedestrian lights. § Streets Operations are schedule to start in early July. Scheduled for completion in October 2012. § There will be some disruption to parking when Streets Operations are working in particular blocks. § There will be traffic disruptions due to curb lane closures. Minimum 2 lanes for traffic during the rush periods, but may be down to one lane at certain times during the day for short periods of time (depending on the construction activity).
Posted: 2012/06/15
Updated: 2012/12/07 by Emma Mendoza-Isip



Written by eyeonnorquay

29 December 2012 at 8:49 pm

Posted in Assessments, News

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