Starting this summer, the Jefferson Center — a non-profit organization committed to advancing democratic, citizen-driven solutions to community and public issues — will convene a Community Panel that will help to inform a new arterial alignment through the False Creek Flats.
“We’re eager to start working with the community to design a productive and well-informed Community Panel,” says Kyle Bozentko, Executive Director of the Jefferson Center and Project Principal for the Flats Arterial Community Panel. “Over the next few months, our team will connect with area stakeholders and community members to help shape the information shared with the Panel and the overall Panel process. Our aim is to begin public recruitment for the Community Panel in August, with the Panel set to convene first in October.”
The Community Panel will review technical information, learn from experts, listen to stakeholders about the impacts of the arterial road options, get feedback from the public, and then make a recommendation to the City on an alignment option.
The Jefferson Center is partnering with local public engagement specialist Susanna Haas Lyons, who will serve as Panel Chair. Haas Lyons recently served as Senior Advisor for the Citizens’ Assembly on the Grandview-Woodland Community Plan, and was also staff to the BC Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform.
After exploring many alignment options for the east-west arterial to replace Prior/Venables Street, the City recognized that all of the options present challenges for stakeholders and decided to form a community panel to deliberate the trade-offs and work towards an arterial option that best meets the needs of all partners involved.
“We have done a lot of technical assessment about three possible alternative arterials through the Flats – Malkin, National, and William,” says Jerry Dobrovolny, General Manager of Engineering for the City of Vancouver. “By the time the False Creek Flats Area Plan came to Council last year, we were seeing that these three options all came with challenges, with a near 1/3 – 1/3 – 1/3 split of support from stakeholders. We realized at that time that we needed to do a deeper and more extensive consultation to ensure that we really hear and understand all the trade-offs associated with a new alignment. We chose a community panel as it is the highest level of consultation that a City can do, and we believe that this choice requires a very high level of engagement.”
The necessity for a new arterial and overpass is driven by the long-term need to build an over or underpass to separate the rail corridor from the arterial. Additionally, Council has approved the transition of Prior/Venables to a local serving street once a new arterial is complete. Consultation and engagement of the arterial overpass was initially included as part of the False Creek Flats Area Plan, but was separated from the planning process when the area plan went to Council on May 17, 2017 to allow for more community input into the process. In November 2017, the City announced it intended to launch a community panel to advise on the decision.
The Jefferson Center was selected as part of a rigorous procurement process as per the City’s procurement policies.
To learn more about the Flats Arterial or about community panels, and to sign up to an email listserve to receive more information as the Jefferson Center begins its process, visit vancouver.ca/flatsarterial.