[Excerpt] Anthony Perl knows the ugliness of highways. “I grew up in New Jersey so I know an urban highway when I see one,” says the director of the urban studies program at Simon Fraser University. When he moved to Vancouver in 2005 – the latest stop in a career that has included stints at City University of New York and Université Lumière in Lyon, France – he arrived with the impression that Vancouver had no highways running through its core. Then he saw the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts.
What is your one big idea to make Vancouver a better city?
Vancouver presents itself to the world, quite correctly for the most part, as the North American city spared the desecration of an urban expressway network. That’s what enabled and made possible the Vancouver miracle of green and livable urban space throughout the downtown and other inner-city neighbourhoods. My view is we have one small exception to that – the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts, originally built as first steps in the metropolitan urban highway scheme. Since we have abandoned that plan to build the highways, it’s about time to take down the infrastructure meant to be part of that.
It sounds like these little viaducts are standing in the way of a lot of potential for central Vancouver.
It’s an impediment. We need to get rid of this no man’s land. If we’re going to complete the development of downtown and add more space for affordable housing, it’s going to be in the eastern part and as long as we have this no man’s land created by these elevated roads, it’s going to be an obstacle or a limitation on how we can do that. Now is the time to be bold.