Suicide-prevention barrier to be installed by City of Vancouver on Granville Bridge

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      A barrier to prevent people from throwing themselves off Granville Bridge will be installed by the City of Vancouver.

      The city did the same on Burrard Bridge in 2017, and it notes that there have been no reported falls from the art-deco crossing since fencing was added.

      The cost of installing a suicide-prevention barrier on Granville Bridge is estimated between $8 million and $15 million.

      The barrier could be a fence or netting.

      Crisis phones will also be installed, so individuals thinking of harming themselves can seek help.

      A 2017 media release by the Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention Centre of B.C. noted that the provincial coroner’s service recommended in 2008 the installation of barriers on the Burrard, Granville, Ironworkers, Lions Gate, and Patullo bridges.

      “These sites accounted for 50 per cent of suicide deaths from jumping between 1991 and 2007,” the nonprofit stated.

      According to the group, Burrard Bridge was the third crossing in the Lower Mainland to have physical barriers, after the Ironworkers and Golden Ears bridges.

      “Since the crisis phones were activated on Burrard Bridge at the beginning of March, we have heard from at least four individuals through our 24/7 crisis support services who had the intention of jumping from that location,” according to the centre. “All four who saw the barriers installed and the crisis phones now available on the bridge were able to reach out for help.”

      The installation of harm-prevention facilities on Granville Bridge was mentioned in information material prepared by the city regarding its planned improvements for walking, cycling, and rolling on the False Creek span.

      “Through careful design, means prevention can be incorporated in a way that preserves views and complements the overall bridge experience, e.g. by integrating lighting,” the city noted.

      The city also stated that it is working with Vancouver Coastal Health and other experts on the suicide-prevention project.

      “Recent Metro Vancouver examples on the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge and Burrard Bridge have had a significant positive impact, saving lives while also reducing healthcare and emergency service costs,” the city noted.

      It cited research showing that “self-harm attempts from bridges are impulsive”.

      “Generally, if someone is prevented from jumping off a bridge, they don’t try other means,” the city stated.

      This work will be coordinated with the Granville Bridge “connector” project, which will free two of the bridge’s eight lanes for walking, cycling, and rolling.

      The city previously considered allotting four lanes for a pathway at the centre of the bridge.

      However, this four-lane option has been eliminated.

      The city cited “very significant traffic delays in northbound direction” and “significant impacts to transit and emergency services” as reason why the measure was scrapped.

      Six options for a bridge connector will be presented at open houses and workshops. Details here.