Vancouver councillor wants new Burrard Bridge suicide barriers scrapped
NPA councillor George Affleck says barriers would ruin bridge's character and may not be effective
This summer's extensive upgrades to the Burrard Bridge include the addition of 3.6-metre wrought-iron suicide barriers, but a Vancouver city councillor says the public was not adequately consulted about the fencing.
NPA councillor George Affleck will be bringing a motion to city council today asking to re-examine the planned fencing, both in terms of aesthetics and effectiveness in suicide prevention.
Affleck said the barriers would be 'intrusive' and 'incongruent' with the bridge's historic art deco design.
"The heritage community really didn't have a choice," Affleck told Early Edition host Rick Cluff. "[They were told,] you're getting fences, we've approved the report, now you can just talk to us about what kind of fences they will be."
Affleck also said data on the effectiveness of fences on bridges as a means of suicide prevention is inconclusive. He said the money earmarked for the fencing would be better spent on alternative means of suicide prevention, such as crisis line phones on the bridge, or healthcare for mental illnesses.
"[We should be asking,] can we get to people before they get to that stage?" Affleck said. "This is $3.5 million we're spending on these fences. That's a significant amount of money that could make a significant impact on healthcare."
About one person a year dies from suicide by jumping from the Burrard Bridge, according to Vancouver Coastal Health. In that same period, about 500 people commit suicide in B.C.
Affleck will present his motion to council later today. A Change.org petition against the fencing currently has more than 1,300 supporters.
With files from CBC's The Early Edition.