Posted by: cindystephenson | August 12, 2009

Two cities – two bridges – two approaches

Victoria and Vancouver are both contemplating changes to historic landmark bridges.

The 80+ year old Johnson Street Bridge, depicted in the photo below, was designed by Joseph Strauss, who later went on to design the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

Johnson Street Bridge - adrimcm

Victoria is looking to replace the Johnson Street and Vancouver is contemplating adding a bike lane to the Burrard Street Bridge (see below).

Burrard Street Bridge - Eric Flexyourhead

Each city council has approached it differently, and each is reaping different results.

Vancouver’s Burrard Street Bridge:


Vancouver announced their intent to run a six month pilot two months before it was due to start, and indicated that a comprehensive evaluation and public engagement plan would be key elements for keeping Council and the public informed over the course of the trial. Their public engagement plan included Twitter, Facebook, an updated website and blog, as well as print and radio ads.

There was significant opposition to the trial from motorists when it first began, but that has died down.

Victoria’s Johnson Street Bridge:


Contrast that with Victoria. There was little outcry when Council initially announced its decision to replace the Johnson Street Bridge. But as word got out, a small group of concerned citizens began asking tough questions. This morphed into a dedicated website and blog, a local media blitz, Facebook and Twitter messages, a letter to Mayor Fortin and Council, as well as emails and conversations with some Victoria councillors.

It’s beginning to generate considerable support locally. Given the viral nature of the campaign, it might well catch on with bridge enthusiasts worldwide. You can view their website here. They present some very compelling arguments for taking a sober second look.

Two bridges – two cities – two approaches:

Vancouver opted to spend the time upfront ensuring citizens were informed and involved. Victoria didn’t and I suspect because of that it will have to spend much more time at the back end, reacting to citizen concerns.

Are you following either of these issues? I’d be very interested in your comments.

Photo credits – Johnson Street Bridge: adrimcm and Burrard Street Bridge: Ericflexyourhead



  1. […] Blue Bridge, Victoria Vision has interesting perspectives on the bridge construction estimates and Cindy Stephenson has published an article on comparisons between civic engagement on bridge issues in Vancouver and […]

  2. Hi Mom
    I was pleasantly surprised when I came across this article, as I strongly support the restructuring of the Johnson Street Bridge, versus a new modern replacement project. It is an integral part of Victoria’s heritage, much of which has sadly disappeared over the previous fifty years. It is vital to protect what we have left, and especially a structure of such great importance. I have recently contacted the moderator of to find out ways in which I can help. Unfortunately, being a resident of Saanich I am not able to vote on the current petition for a referendum, so I am trying to make my voice heard through a different medium. Glad to see you are informing your readers on this issue.

    • Hi Mark,
      Thanks for stopping by and great to hear your support for refurbishing versus replacing the bridge. In my view the Mayor’s process has been flawed. I was thinking of volunteering over the holidays to help collect signatures for the counter-petition.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: