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West End residents pan plan for watermain replacement under Stanley Park

Click to play video: 'Businesses and residents worry about Stanley Park tunnel project' Businesses and residents worry about Stanley Park tunnel project
Businesses in Stanley Park and nearby residents are worried about the construction of a huge water tunnel, underneath the park. As Ted Chernecki reports, they're not sure of Metro Vancouver's assurances that there will be little impact. – Dec 16, 2021

There’s yet another pipeline battle brewing in British Columbia, this time right in the centre of Downtown Vancouver.

But this pipe won’t be pumping oil: it’s a seismic upgrade and replacement of a 90-year-old water pipe that will double the flow from North Shore to Vancouver, Richmond, Delta and Tswawassen.

The $300 million project is projected to take five years to complete, and involves a tunnel beneath Stanley Park, with one of its significant work sites on Chilco Street, right next to Lost Lagoon, and a number of residential towers.

“The neighbourhood’s primary concern is not the loss of our park, we can grit our teeth through that some years, but the enormous amount of noise could make our lives quite miserable for years on end,” resident Roy Brander told Global News.

Read more: After nearly 2 years, FortisBC’s major Metro Vancouver gas line replacement complete

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“We accept the necessity of the project, but the sheer five-year timeline is simply hard to believe. We believe they’re really giving themselves a lot of slack here, and we’d prefer them to consider our feelings and make the timeline as tight as possible.”

Residents say the area is already heavily congested, particularly with Beach Avenue at the West end of Denman Street now closed to outbound traffic.

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They also say groups of park users were consulted as stakeholers in the project, but residents — who will be there for the entire project — were not.

“We can’t get away. And none of us have been asked for input, which just seems a little shortsighted, and to say the least its unkind. We do have concerns about noise, the direction of the traffic management plan,” resident Jill Taylor said.

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“Please, come down. Can we have a walk and talk. Can you have a look at the traffic congestion that is going to be at Denman and Robson and Denman and Alberni? That is a particularly nasty intersection.”

Read more: Major construction kicking off on Vancouver’s Broadway subway

Murray Gant, director of major projects for Metro Vancouver, said staff were open to residents’ concerns.

“We’re doing whatever we can. We want to continue to work with the neighbours. We realize there are impacts, but we’re doing our best to reduce those impacts,” he said.

He added that planning for the project had already taken some of those concerns into consideration.

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Work in the tunnel will be serviced by three vertical shafts, one near Burrard Inlet, one near Chilco Street where residents have concerns, and a primary shaft near the Stanley Park works yard.

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“We wanted to reduce impacts to residents in the area by having most of the work occurring not only underground in a tunnel, but also from a central works area that’s away from the residents,” Gant said.

Read more: Commercial Drive businesses sue FortisBC over disruptions from pipeline work

Residents, however, remain concerned they’re not being listened to, and say communication about several aspects of the project has been poor — such as project timelines.

“If we knew that the first year and a half will be the major part, we can live with it. We have to live with it either way, but that would really help with planning,” resident David Bronstein said.

“We have already had one lady, who was a very main part of our building, move out of the building and put her apartment on the market.”

Work on the project is slated to get underway in late 2022, with a scheduled completion date of 2027.

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