We all know the Georgia Viaducts are being removed.  But what happens to the traffic?  Many on Prior Street want the traffic rerouted.  What is the best option between Malkin Avenue or National Avenue to move the traffic in and out of the City? 

It is clear that Malkin should NOT be considered as it forces profitable businesses, this urban ‘produce row’ for food distribution, and their employees out of Vancouver.  Truck services to the 6 food wholesalers on Malkin cannot be handled on the street if it is to be a traffic artery.  This food hub is key to city residents, city institutions and hotels, cruise ships and more. It is a food security issue in the event of an earthquake. This is urgent!  Time is short as City staff are to release a draft plan to the public in June, produce a final plan in the summer, with the recommendation scheduled to go to council in the fall.

Click here to see the list of Councilors, their email addresses and phone numbers.  Email, phone and Tweet to get the Councilors to Vote NO to Malkin Avenue.

So, what’s at stake and what is the background? 

The issue has been under discussion for a few years.  Key considerations stated in the False Creek Flats Prior/Venables Replacement document to guide the decision include:

  • The impact on three community gardens: Cottonwood Community Garden, Strathcona Community Garden, and the Purple Thistle; and
  • The impact on ‘Produce Row’ where currently 6 of the City’s 9 produce wholesalers* are found along Malkin Avenue, representing approximately 450 local jobs.  These businesses combined receive approximately 4,000 truck deliveries a week, and often block traffic on Malkin while manoeuvering. 

* Including CCEC Member, Discovery Organics who recently relocated to Malkin Avenue.

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Randy Hopper, Co-Owner, Discovery Organics says, “If we are forced to move to the suburbs, this will likely increase fruit and vegetable prices by 3%, and other companies down here are suggesting 6% when the costs of new buildings and millions of dollars of new coolers are factored in.”  Currently, the Food Bank and Agencies serving food secure vulnerable populations in the City with community kitchens, community meals and food distribution programs will lose their capacity to pick up donated produce for use in their programs.”  He continues, “Vancouver will be one of the very, very few major cities in North America without a produce distribution centre in close proximity to the city core.  And, the independent, small local grocery stores and restaurants will lose their capacity to pick up daily from several suppliers in close proximity."

So, it make sense to NOT choose the Malkin Avenue option but to choose an option that minimizes impact to Cottonwood Community (and other community) Gardens; avoids impact to Produce Row; contributes most to the City’s Greenest City Action Plan; creates local green jobs; and builds our City’s capacity to be one of North America’s most robust local food economies.  A Tyee article in 2010 on creating a local food hub stated, “The distribution houses on Produce Row have, for over a century, done a great job of keeping Vancouver, and all points east, fed.”  It also quoted our new City Manager S. Johston as saying, "Over 25% of an individual's carbon footprint is related to food,"  He continued by acknowledging that, “the city recognizes the strong need for an urban distribution centre for local food.”

In 2103, Motions forwarded to Council from the Transportation and Environment Committee discussing the Dunsmuir and Georgia Viaducts that were unanimously approved by Council states:

THAT Council direct staff to incorporate…an urban agriculture "centre of excellence", including the potential for an "urban food" production centre with an expanded future garden system, through optimizing the existing assets in the area, which include: Strathcona and Cottonwood Gardens; and the key food warehousing and shipping infrastructure on Malkin Street.; and

THAT a guiding principle be modified to read:  to "maintain an efficient network of arterial streets essential for goods movement to support jobs and the economy.”

Recently, a Produce Row business sent a letter to his customers urging them to forward it to City Council.  In the letter, it says, “It’s very likely that several, if not all Produce Row businesses will be forced to relocate or close.  It will be an end to their history in the community and the jobs they provide.  This will also mean considerably reduced availability of produce for my business and my customers.  Food quality will decrease and food prices will rise due to longer transportation routes.  It also means fewer much-needed donations to nearby food banks in Vancouver, as the produce supply will be too far away to transport economically. Finally, it probably means the loss of potential economic synergies and job opportunities that could come from fostering the growth of a hub of food and food-related businesses in this area.”

Ian Marcuse, CCEC Member and the Grandview Woodland Food Connection Coordinator who has spoken at Council against the Malkin Avenue option says, "Our mandate to support healthy and equitable food access for the roughly 20% of individuals and households living in Grandview Woodland who are food insecure, is strongly supported by the Malkin Avenue food wholesalers from which we purchase quality produce for our Bulk Food Club.”  He continues by saying, “In fact, the only reason that we have been able to make this bulk food program affordable for the 60 or so households dependent on it, is due to the close proximity of these food warehouses.  The potential loss if these food wholesalers from the inner city and inevitable increase in cost for us if we have to travel much further to access food will have significant impact on our community members who are struggling". 

Councilor Geoff Meggs speak in support of protecting Produce Row and the importance of it for our food system, for people’s livelihoods and for small businesses across Vancouver. Despite this support, it is not enough.  With all the arguments against the Malkin Avenue option and direction from Council, why does it seem that city staff continue to push for it?  We urge CCEC Members to write to City Councilors and City staff working directly or indirectly on this to NOT choose Malkin Avenue. 

Click here to see the list of Councilors, their email addresses and phone numbers.  Email, phone and Tweet to have Councilors Vote NO to Malkin Avenue.

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