The anticipated demolition of Vancouver's viaducts into downtown has provoked a surprise tussle between the city and the province, which is belatedly claiming there are all kinds of complications with the project.
Transportation Minister Todd Stone has made the case for two days that city staff and politicians haven't talked to the province about impacts on regional traffic, about access problems to the province's BC Place and about the toxic soil in the area.
City council has been talking about demolishing the viaducts for six years.
"There have been no meaningful technical discussions [about access to BC Place]," Mr. Stone said Thursday. "We also want to make sure concerns we have about the movement of goods are considered."
But a three-year planning report issued in January this year from the province's agency PavCo, which manages BC Place, says it is working with the city to address problems.
Councillor Geoff Meggs said discussions have been so extensive that the city has planned a more expensive construction technique for the new ramp next to BC Place to make sure there are no access problems.
"We wouldn't have started down this path if we didn't think this would work for BC Place," Mr. Meggs said.
He also noted that private consultants, who did extensive reports on the impacts on traffic, First Nations archeological issues and other specifics, addressed the points Mr. Stone has been bringing up.
Councillors from Mr. Meggs's party, Vision Vancouver, narrowly carried a vote Tuesday to demolish the viaducts and create a new neighbourhood using land that is no longer restricted by the elevated roadway above.
The decision still depends on a staff financial analysis due in 18 months, itemizing how much money the city would be able to generate by selling its land and by collecting fees and community-facilities contributions from developers in the area.
Staff roughly estimated that would generate $300-million, not counting any funding the city is hoping to get from bonus money that the buyer of the former Expo 86 lands, Concord Pacific, owes to the province as part of the original sale agreement.
It will cost the city about $93-million to remove the two kilometre viaducts and another $100-million or so to build new, wider roads on the ground and create a large park that will be the centrepiece of the Northeast False Creek neighbourhood.
City staff were directed two years ago to do detailed engineering studies and hold discussions with the landowners affected, including the province.
Mr. Meggs said city staff have had eight meetings in the past two years with PavCo representatives, while he personally has met with former PavCo general manager David Podmore while he still held the job.
PavCo's three-year service plan, published in January, 2015, referred to the discussions in the section where it outlined all of the construction complications the site was facing. That included the construction of the new Paragon casino and hotel next door and planned residential developments in Northeast False Creek.
The report said: "While the City of Vancouver is proposing to remove the eastbound Georgia viaduct, PavCo has indicated it will not support the proposal if BC Place and PavCo are negatively impacted in any way. PavCo is working with the city to address PavCo's concerns as part of the city's viaduct consultation process."
PavCo issued a letter Oct. 19, a week before the viaduct vote, saying it was open to working with the city on the viaducts' removal but that it wasn't agreeing to anything yet.
PavCo interim CEO Ken Cretney also wrote that it was "inappropriate" for city staff to mention in its report the old sale agreement the province had with Concord, which provided for bonus payments, or to make public suggestions that the city should share in that profit.