City council approves Low Level Road
It’s over. Actually over.
For the past year and a half, City of North Vancouver council has rejected, debated and finally supported an overhaul of the Low Level Road after a 5-2 vote on the controversial issue Monday night.
Council’s final vote on the project was scheduled for last week but was delayed to allow councillors more time to digest the noise, environmental and slope stability reports, all of which were released by Port Metro Vancouver within days of council’s June 11 meeting.
The added week did little to quell some councillors reservations about the project. Both councillors Rod Clark and Pam Bookham, the two dissenting voices Monday night, spoke at length about lingering problems, in particular the bike lane planned for the north side of the road — which will sit between a retaining wall and traffic — and the need for more complete data on the noise implications of a raised road and the longer trains expected to come to the area once construction is completed.
“Once again, council is not standing up for itself,” Clark told The Outlook, in a phone interview Tuesday morning.
“We need to have the Low Level Road, I understand the rationale for the job. But there are loose ends and they need to be tied up. I want to see noise and pollution monitoring done by the port in the future and action done by them if need be.”
Clark attempted to attach a clause to the Low Level Road motion that would force Port Metro Vancouver to produce a new noise study before the project could go ahead. It was defeated.
Bookham attempted to have the decision deferred again so the city and the port could hammer out details on a new bike path and more accessible Spirit Trail connections. Bookham also sought the removal of the Third Street overpass, which connects the Low Level Road to the Spirit Trail north of Third Street, and one of the two new rail lines planned by CN Rail. Those plans were also defeated.
Coun. Don Bell, who supported the project, proposed that the port establish noise and environmental baseline assessments so the city can revisit the data one year after the road has been redesigned to see what, if any, changes had occurred. If either scenario had gotten worse, then the city could attempt to fix the problems. His motion was referred to staff and will return to council chambers in the future.
“I was trying to acknowledge that both Port Metro Vancouver and CN talk about the environmental objectives and greenness of their companies. So, in acknowledging that, we want that as well,” Bell told The Outlook.
“They maintain the belief there will be a reduction in air pollution and noise with the changes to the Low Level Road. Residents are worried about potential negative impacts in these areas, but PMV says its an improvement. So, lets establish some baselines in those areas and one year later we’ll go back and measure.”
The city and the port will be signing a legal agreement for the project by June 30. City engineer Doug Pope said he expects construction to begin by late fall but the final say on the schedule will be determined by the port.
After a lengthy town hall meeting held at city hall last month, the design of the Low Level Road was altered slightly, now allowing southbound traffic on St. Andrews Avenue to turn left and access the shops in the 300-block of East Esplanade.
A full breakdown of the Low Level Road’s new design can be found online in an Outlook story titled “Port Metro Vancouver unveils new Low Level Road design.”