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Shortly after City Council voted to proceed with demolishing the Viaducts came this:

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B.C. Transportation Minister Todd Stone said the City of Vancouver needs to “cool down” on its plan to remove the Georgia and Dunsmuir Viaducts. …

“I checked with my officials and it has been a number of years since the city took any meaningful steps to reach out to PAVCO which owns and operates B.C. place,” said Stone.

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Stephen Quinn in The Globe quickly demolished that line:

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(Minister Todd Stone) went on to say that he was not aware of any meaningful discussions between the city of Vancouver and PavCo and, to him, this was a concern.

He was wrong.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson told me in an interview later that day that over the past two years there have been at least eight meetings between senior city staff and top officials at PavCo to work on a plan for the eventual removal of the viaducts.

“There’s a good paper trail on this,” he said. “…

A source at City Hall supplied me with the dates of those meetings. The mayor was right – there were eight of them between April, 2014, and September of this year.

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So what’s going on?  It’s hard to believe that the Minister was so poorly briefed.  Or is this simply a case of looking for any justification to overrule the City and maintain the Viaducts?

If so, why?

It certainly leads to speculation that the long-term intent of the Province is to effectively replicate the purpose of the proposed Chinatown freeway in order to link Highway 1 with downtown.   I’m thinking, in particular, of my speculation here – in which the Viaducts would be a piece of a larger corridor.

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tunnel

Click to enlarge

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The Province could assemble any number of arguments: PavCo’s and stadium requirements, the new St. Paul’s Hospital needs for access, a desired tunnel under Grandview by the residents themselves, a ‘parkway’ with sound protection for residents along East 1st – all without ever using the term freeway.

And don’t forget: no transit upgrades to serve growth from the east, thanks to the defeat of the referendum.  Therefore the need to maintain and enhance road access.

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Then there are these comments on the Viaduct decision, picked up by Bob Mackin:

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Freer

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So who’s Geoff Freer?  This guy:

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Not only executive director of the Gateway Project and South Fraser Perimeter Road but also, now, executive project director for the Massey Bridge, and likely the widening of Highway 99.

In other words, the go-to guy to build the massive highway and bridge infrastructure that will bring new lanes of traffic right up to the borders of Vancouver.

And then what?

Perhaps that’s really what the Minister means: The Viaducts are not a ‘done deal’ because, possibly, another deal is in the works.