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New River District development creating traffic congestion

Fraserview residents calling for transit upgrades

At full build out, the River District is expected to have 7,000 new homes and 18,000 residents. Photo submitted by River District Centre
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Reported by Roberto Teixeira

Fraserview residents are worried the development of the massive River District waterfront community in southeast Vancouver will bring even more heavy traffic to their neighbourhood.

Barbara Borchardt, a Fraserview resident, said the 130-acre development is already creating traffic problems, with Southeast Marine Drive “becoming a parking lot during many days.”

Fraserview is adjacent to the River District, which is located on the lands between Kerr Street and Boundary Road, south of Marine Way. When completed, the new community could have a population bigger than 10,000 and employ thousands of people, according to the developer, Wesgroup Properties.

Such an increase in population is what worries Borchardt, who was invited to meet with Wesgroup to raise concerns about transportation and other issues with the project.

“The fact that [Wesgroup] have been making themselves accessible to residents is a positive sign,” she said. “My take is that this issue of transportation and transit squarely lands on the shoulders of the city and TransLink.”

A need for conversation

Andrew Dennis, who lives in the Kent Avenue neighbourhood, said there appears to be a lack of communication between the city, TransLink and residents.

“I understand there have been discussions between the developers, the city and TransLink on the issue of transit in the area, including discussions about the use of the rail line as a possible hub,” Dennis said. “There is very limited information on this and what’s personally interesting is there has been no input sought to date by the city or TransLink from existing residents who live directly on this rail line.”

Wesgroup’s original development plan of 2006, which was approved by Vancouver city council, identified three new bus stops inside the community. The plan also called for a water taxi on the river. A passenger train on the existing Canadian Pacific rail line was to connect the Marine Drive Canada Line station with the SkyTrain station in New Westminster.

Tentative plans

“There have been lots of thinking done over the years on opportunities to provide transit to the neighbourhood, so we have made allowances for that to happen and continue to work with the city and TransLink to initially make sure that the busses are coming through the neighbourhood,” said Brad Jones, Wesgroup’s director of development.

Jones pointed out that TransLink is responsible for all the transit in the Lower Mainland and the decision of new transit routes is ultimately theirs.

“We don’t have a firm time place from them, the planning has been in place for a number of years, but we don’t have a hard date when they plan on switching,” Jones said. “We are looking to work with TransLink and the city to have that transit come into the community as is indicated in the plan.”

Borchardt, meanwhile, continues to work to decrease traffic flowing through her community.

“Locally we’ve got our speed humps in one section which deals with speed for part of our roadway, but it does not deal with the volume,” she said. “We as a community are now tossing ideas around about gathering as a group with signs for all those cutting through [the neighbourhood] reminding them of speed limits, stop signs.

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