Initiative process: Save Vancouver Streets looks to change city’s plans for roadways

McGillivray Blvd. in east Vancouver might become one lane each way instead of two, but an organization called Save Vancouver Street is hoping the stop or slow the city’s plans. Photo by Paul Valencia
McGillivray Blvd. in east Vancouver might become one lane each way instead of two, but an organization called Save Vancouver Street is hoping the stop or slow the city’s plans. Photo by Paul Valencia

Organization seeks signatures on initiative that would require a vote from citizens to take away lanes on any existing street in Vancouver

Paul Valencia
ClarkCountyToday.com

Save Vancouver Streets (SVS) organizers are going through the initiative process and are looking for signatures as the group hopes to change the way the city makes major changes to roadways.

Construction has already started on SE 34th Street for what the city describes as part of its Complete Streets ordinance.

SVS is hoping that this initiative will stop, at least temporarily, the Complete Streets plans for McGillivray Blvd., 112th Street, Main Street, and other areas of the city. 

This is one of the options for McGillivray Blvd., provided by the city of Vancouver. Many local residents do not want McGillivray to become one lane each way for car traffic. Image courtesy City of Vancouver
This is one of the options for McGillivray Blvd., provided by the city of Vancouver. Many local residents do not want McGillivray to become one lane each way for car traffic. Image courtesy City of Vancouver

SVS says it is not anti- bicycle, pedestrian, nor mobility lanes. SVS wants the city to provide more options and to listen to residents. Neighborhoods and the city can come to a compromise and still make desired changes. But major changes should be OK’d by a vote of the people.

The proposal for the McGillivray project, for example, would turn the stretch from SE Chkalov Drive to SE 164th Ave. into one lane each way. It is currently two lanes in each direction.

In layman’s terms, the initiative states that the city could not take away a lane of traffic on any existing road without the approval of a majority of voters in the City of Vancouver. The specific language for the initiative, which has been filed with the city, can be found below.

According to the talking points on the Save Vancouver Streets website, the city opted to remove lanes with little or no public input and only asked the public what the design should look like after lanes are removed.

SVS has listed other options for McGillivray, including: reduction of center medians, mobility lanes on one side of the street, and bus pull-out lanes that do not block traffic. The current plan, according to SVS, has buses stopping, and blocking traffic, on the one available lane.

The city has already completed Complete Streets projects along McLoughlin Blvd., Tech Center Drive, and Columbia Street. There has been some positive feedback, even though there were criticisms before the changes were made. Then again, losing parking spots on Columbia Street has been an issue for many in the area.

Not every neighborhood is the same, and many citizens in east Vancouver did not appreciate the city’s approach to the upcoming changes to 34th Street and the proposed changes to McGillivray Blvd.

Save Vancouver Streets, a grassroots organization, started meeting in the winter. 

In January, Justin Wood, who lives near SE 34th Street, described the city’s communication regarding the 34th Street project to be “sad.”

He noted that the city gave residents three options. All three of them were taking a lane out in each direction. Keeping it four lanes was never an option, Wood said. 

“The whole reason I got involved, it has really baffled me how much the city of Vancouver is operating in a vacuum and not listening to people,” said Wood, a member of Save Vancouver Streets.

He said he does not want other neighborhoods to go through a similar experience, which is why he is for the initiative.

The initiative needs 4,500 signatures and SVS is hoping to get between 6,000 and 10,000 signatures. Signees must be registered voters and Vancouver residents. 

Save Vancouver Streets has volunteers throughout the city asking for signatures. One can also go to the SVS website https://www.savevancouverstreets.com/, or its Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/groups/261602566952270 for more information. 

The initiative, in full, reads:

BE IT ENACTED BY THE PEOPLE OF THE CITY OF VANCOUVER A new section is added to Chapter 11.80 STREET AND DEVELOPMENT STANDARDS of the Vancouver Municipal Code which states: 

The City of Vancouver shall not construct or contract for the construction of any project which results in the conversion of a lane or lanes of vehicle travel on any existing principal arterial, minor arterial, collector, industrial or access street to pedestrian, bicycling, mobility, or transit use without approval by a majority of voters in the City of Vancouver in an election for the project. This provision will apply to any applicable project approved after its enactment or to any applicable project previously approved for construction by the City in which: 1. the contract has not been awarded pursuant to a competitive bidding process or 2. funding has not been appropriated.

The city describes Complete Streets as “a safe, accessible street system that benefits all users, ages, and abilities, regardless of how they choose to travel; a convenient and interconnected transportation network that improves accessibility to adjacent land uses and fits the dynamics and character of each neighborhood throughout the City, and leveraging local funding for complete streets projects with regional, state, and federal grant funding.”

City officials plan to have Complete Streets in other areas, as well. To see the city’s Complete Streets information, go here: https://www.cityofvancouver.us/business/planning-development-and-zoning/transportation-planning/complete-streets/

To read about the origins of Save Vancouver Streets, see our story from January, 2024: https://www.clarkcountytoday.com/news/community-members-rally-in-hopes-of-saving-mcgillivray-boulevard/

POLL: Do you believe the city of Vancouver should be required to get public approval to take away traffic lanes as part of its Complete Streets ordinance?*
355 votes


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