JULY 8, 1997

                             ADMINISTRATIVE REPORT

   Date: June 20, 1997
   CC File: 5757

   TO:       Standing Committee on Transportation and Traffic

   FROM:     General Manager of Engineering Services, in consultation with
             the Director of Central Area Planning

   SUBJECT:  Keefer Triangle Improvements


        A.   THAT the improvements of the Keefer Triangle, as described in
             this report and as generally illustrated in Figure 1, be


        B.   THAT the improvements include a two-tree median on Columbia
             Street, at an additional cost of $60,000, to be funded from
             Streets Basic Capital Unappropriated Account No.
             12/31/9805/999 - Transit and Arterial Streets; OR

        C.   THAT the improvements not include a median on Columbia Street.


        The General Manager of Engineering Services RECOMMENDS A and C. 
        There are traffic concerns with a median on Columbia but, more
        importantly, the street would be the likely route for the Downtown
        Heritage Railway.  Any investment in a median may be lost within
        five years with the development of a rail trolley service in this


   City Council approved CityPlan in June 1995, including a policy that
   establishes priority for walking, cycling, and transit ahead of cars.

   The intent of the zoning for Chinatown (HA-1 And HA-1A), which controls
   the use of land around the triangle, is to encourage the preservation of
   significant early buildings and to recognize the need to accept new
   activities in a contextual way.


   The purpose of this report is to seek design approval and funding
   consideration for a portion of Keefer Street in Chinatown to create an
   urban square while restoring vehicular access in proximity to properties
   fronting on the north side of the street, east of Columbia Street.


    In June, 1993, City Council approved the terms of a business
   arrangement with the Ministry of Housing, Lands, and Parks, and the
   Chinatown Merchants Association Parking Association, whereby the Murrin
   Site Parkade would be built and the City would divert Keefer Street to
   its present alignment.  The street  improvements in the vicinity of the
   Keefer/Quebec-Columbia intersection were authorized to a maximum cost of
   $400,000.  Improvement of the residual portion of street was to be
   undertaken after consultation with the community.  A sod surface was
   placed in the interim, around the time of the Parkade opening in May
   1995.  Consultations were lengthy, and a compromise was ultimately
   reached as City staff agreed to support some form of vehicular
   connection through the Triangle on the basis that it would not be of
   typical roadway design.  A working group of CHAPC, CMA, and City staff
   developed criteria for the Triangle that led to terms of reference for
   hiring a design consultant.  Since March of this year, the consultant
   team of David Mah, Lewis Villegas, and Fred Liu have worked with the
   Chinatown community and staff to develop a design proposal for the
   Keefer Triangle.


   The proposed design for the Keefer Triangle is illustrated in Figure 1
   (Appendix A).  It has been developed to fulfil a number of objectives. 
   These are described below.

   Harmonize with its setting in Chinatown - The fundamental principle
   guiding the design is the positioning of a double row of Chinese tulip
   trees 7.1 m apart to align with existing trees which frame the entrance
   to Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Park.  The square would use materials prevalent in
   Chinatown, or which are complementary.  Twelve new trees are proposed
   (boulevard trees would be in addition), and the three existing cherry
   trees would be transplanted elsewhere if possible.

   Reintroduce vehicular movement adjacent to properties abutting on the
   north - A four metre  roadway  would be demarcated on the square by
   concrete bollards to permit vehicles to pass near the north-fronting
   properties.  Due to the narrow width, the link would be one-way
   westbound and stopping would be prohibited.  Traffic would have  to turn
   right at Columbia.

   Integrate with the surroundings to create an urban square -   The square
   will be a highly visible space for the public to pause, gather, or
   simply pass through en route to or from the principal destinations of
   Chinatown, and will form an aesthetic foreground for the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen
   Park, the new Museum of the Chinese Cultural Centre, the CMA Parkade,
   and, ultimately, future development along the north side of Keefer.  

   Create a pedestrian-friendly public open space - As the proposed trees
   are deciduous, they will provide relief from the heat in summer while
   permitting light to penetrate in winter.  The trees will be pruned
   upward to ensure comfortable clearance for pedestrians.   Opportunities
   will exist for future enhancements or activities that would be of
   interest and benefit to pedestrians (see below).  Higher amenity, more
   visible crosswalks would be installed at the intersection of Keefer and
   Quebec/Columbia.  Two additional crosswalks, one at either end of the
   new vehicular link, crossing Keefer and Columbia, were also considered;
   these are not recommended, however, due to safety concerns.

   Permit limited interim vehicular access to abutting properties - Access
   to the repair garage and the adjacent surface parking lot would be
   provided on an interim basis by strategic deletion of bollards.  When
   redevelopment of the abutting sites occurs, the owners are aware that
   access would occur from the lane that lies to the north, or, if lane
   access is not possible, from Columbia.

   Allow an opportunity for tour bus passenger loading - A lay-by would be
   provided along existing Keefer Street to accommodate the pick-up and
   drop-off  activity of a tour bus.

   Not worsen traffic on Keefer nor congest the CMA Parkade - The design
   should improve traffic movement on Keefer in the vicinity of the parkade
   entrance.  The new link allows a bypass opportunity, should traffic on
   Keefer get clogged.  In addition, left turns from eastbound Keefer to
   the new roadway link would be prohibited.

   Address concerns of undesirable activities and security - Principles of
   crime prevention through environmental design will be followed. The
   space would be well-lit by lights within the bollards and supplementary
   fixtures.  The new link would provide additional supervision, already
   good due to the openness of the site.  Any potential street furniture on
   the site would be designed to  prevent sleeping.  A potential tourism
   kiosk (see below) would provide additional security by having an
   attendant on-site.

   Allow flexibility for adding features and hosting a variety of
   activities - The design of the square is amenable to incorporating a
   number of features, including a tourist kiosk, commemorative monument,
   work of public art, decorative fountain,  feature signpost,  etc.  As
   well, the layout of the tree grid allows numerous spaces for both
   scheduled and unorganized activities to occur.  A rain shelter or some
   other weather protection is viewed as a necessity. The CMA has indicated
   that it intends to hold a competition to generate a design for future
   Meet budgetary constraints and avoid excessive maintenance costs -  To
   the greatest extent practicable, stock building materials would be
   incorporated.  Not providing curbs and gutters on the new link should
   further reduce costs.  Removal of the grassed areas would yield a
   maintenance saving.  Surfaces would be designed or treated to minimize
   costs for graffiti control. The best defence against vandalism, however,
   is for the local community to take ownership of the square by using it. 
   The proposed design is estimated to cost approximately $190,000.  Funds
   for this work are available from the original project.  Incorporation of
   a median on Columbia would add $60,000 to the estimate, and
   supplementary funding would be required.

   Gain support of the Chinatown community, including adjoining property
   owners -  Through the efforts of Chinatown representatives, the
   consultants, and staff, it is believed that such support is now in hand
   (see below).  Continued support from Chinatown and the City will be
   needed to allow the square to reach its potential.


   The consultants have proposed that a treed median be installed along
   Columbia Street between Keefer and Pender.  The additional trees would
   help connect the new trees in the square with the existing trees framing
   the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Park portal.  While the inclusion of trees in a
   median would contribute to the overall scheme, the residual road width
   would be sub-standard for two moving lanes in each direction, rendering
   them uncomfortable and less safe for cyclists, and unusable for the tour
   buses that have become more frequent in the area.  Even if the curb
   lanes were used for parking or stopping only,  buses would not be able
   to manoeuvre to or from the curb.  The reduced roadway also would hinder
   access to Chinatown.  Accommodating the needs of buses, while
   incorporating a median, requires that the sidewalks be narrowed.  If a
   median of a length as proposed by the consultants were built, this would
   incur significant impacts to pedestrians and additional expense.

   To achieve the desired connection between the trees of the Keefer
   Triangle and portal forecourt,  staff have designed a two-tree median on
   Columbia for the half block north of Keefer Street.  This would be
   accomplished by relocating the curb along the Triangle eastward. 
   Impacts to pedestrians would be minimal; however, due to costs,
   reduction in the size of the Triangle, and concerns from the CMA, the
   median is submitted for consideration.


   The design of the Keefer Triangle has been a frequent discussion item on
   the agenda of the Chinatown Historic Area Planning Committee.  CHAPC,
   City staff, and affected owners, have sought to explore design solutions
   that would meet as many public and private objectives as possible, while
   keeping within the allowed budget.

   The consultants and staff held an open house in the Murrin Parkade mall
   on May 10, 1997; approximately 100 members of the public stopped by. 
   There was general support for the proposal, with only a couple of people
   voicing opposition to the vehicular connection.  Owners of property on
   the north side of the Triangle have been extensively involved in the
   development of this scheme and have indicated their agreement with the
   proposed design.  At its meeting on May 13, 1997, CHAPC reviewed the
   design that had been presented at the Open House.  It agreed to support
   the design, noting however, concerns with the effect the trees would
   have if planted at the density proposed and were allowed to grow to
   their full height.  CHAPC therefore recommended that the size of the
   trees be controlled through a regular pruning program.

   The CMA struck a committee to review the proposed design, and expressed
   concern about the potential impact a median might have, as they did not
   want to lose any width from the travelling lanes.  The CMA committee
   also wanted the second row of trees deferred to allow increased
   flexibility.  A copy of their letter is included as Appendix B.

   Staff and the consultants believe the design, with or without a Columbia
   median, allows adequate flexibility for embellishing the site.  The
   previous design, with fifteen trees, was modified after consultation
   with the CMA and revised to show twelve trees.  Elimination of the
   second row would seriously compromise the fundamental design concept. 
   Deferral of planting is not satisfactory, since trees would then not be
   of matching size.   


   The original approval of the diversion of Keefer Street as part of the
   Murrin Parkade agreement provided a total of $400,000 ($200,000 from
   Streets Capital and $200,000 from Parking Sites Reserve).  To date,
   approximately $210,000 has been spent, and $190,000 remains to fund the
   improvements detailed in this report.  Should the median be added on
   Columbia Street, an additional $60,000 would be required, from the
   account set aside for modifications to transit and arterial streets. 
   Construction would occur in late summer to fall.


   A working group of Chinatown merchants, property owners, CHAPC members,
   consultants,  and City staff have developed a plan for treating the
   Keefer Triangle.  The design would create a treed, hard-surfaced, public
   open square.  A lay-by  on Keefer Street with capacity for one tour bus,
   and a four-metre, one-way, single lane vehicular connection, with
   accesses to two abutting properties, would be provided.  Opportunities
   for future endowment of the square with further amenities would be
   created.  It is recommended that the City proceed with the improvements
   as described in this report.

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