VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – People driving along Vancouver’s Prior Street may have seen something unusual: people from the neighbourhood waving placards.

Dozens of people gathered at Strathcona Park, holding up signs reading things like “No Highways” and “Slow down, we live here.”

The demonstrators want motorists to know they gave their street up when the freeway idea was turned down back in the ’70s, and now they want it back.

Pete Fry lives in the Strathcona neighbourhood and says with talk of the viaducts coming down, it’s time to steer traffic away from Prior.

“I think a lot of people don’t realize that it’s a neighbourhood. You go flying through there off the viaduct. You’re going pretty fast and you don’t notice the park, houses, seniors’ care facilities, churches and all sorts of stuff down here,” he insists.

He notes once the freeway idea was rejected, traffic was forced onto Prior, a route not designed for heavy traffic.

“It’s not a very safe street for pedestrians and people who live around there. We’ve had 177 casualties in the last five years on that stretch of road. The sidewalks are too narrow. There’s far too much high-speed traffic that comes through there,” he insists.

He says Prior runs like a scar through the community and cuts neighbours off from Strathcona Park and gardens.

He and others who’ve signed a petition would like to see Prior turned into a residential street, with a bike path and street parking, with traffic rerouted through Malkin Avenue or National Street, just south of Prior.