Removal of the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts is a done deal

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      City council reached Number 32 on the speakers' list at yesterday's committee meeting on the future of the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts.

      This means that in the name of civic democracy, more residents and stakeholders will come forward on Tuesday (October 27) to state their views.

      Senior staff have recommended the removal of the viaducts, which is expected to cost $200 million. The city expects to recover $300 million from the newly available land.

      Long-time city-hall watchers have seen this movie before. Here's how it invariably plays out.

      * Senior staff comes forward with a recommendation after a great deal of internal discussions and meetings in the community.

      * The governing party has already signalled its intention to senior staff either through the media or through direct discussion. Coun. Geoff Meggs did most of the heavy lifting on the political side.

      * The interests of major party donors won't be ignored. In this case, large real-estate companies will likely see an enormous lift in land values when the ugly, view-obstructing viaducts are knocked down.

      * The interests of Vision Vancouver's base of support in East Vancouver won't be ignored, either. They're sick of traffic in their neighbourhoods. Many of the users of the viaducts come from the suburbs and they don't vote in Vancouver elections.

      * There will be a lot of nattering from others who will experience some inconvenience when more commuter traffic travels down alternative routes, including East Hastings and Powell streets. This is why the future of Prior Street has become a hot issue.

      * Port Metro Vancouver will be watching this issue closely with a view to how it will affect truck traffic to its facilities. But don't expect port officials to raise too many serious concerns in public because they won't want to pick a fight with the City of Vancouver. That's because the mayor and council hold all the cards in determining transportation issues.

      * Council will approve the staff recommendations, quite possibly with no amendments.

      Citizens will blow off some steam at the committee hearing. But in the end, what they say won't have much impact at all on the outcome of the debate over the viaducts.

      So why not just dispense with the expensive and time-consuming charade of listening to the public and get on tearing them down?