Vancouver: Granville Island & False Creek
Vancouver, British Columbia is a model city for the demonstration of redevelopment and revitalization success. In the recent past, the city has transitioned from a primarily “port city,” to a world class destination for tourism, urban living, and entertainment, with one of the fastest growing economies in the West.
Geographically, the central city is surrounded by water, including the Burrard Inlet, the Fraser River, and False Creek cuts into the middle of the developed downtown, and due to its shallow depth, was always the “secondary” body of water. However, today, False Creek is central to the rebirth of Vancouver’s downtown lifestyle. Cooper’s Park, including the Marinaside Crescent seawalk, lines the section of new residential highrises, attracting hundreds of bikers, walkers, and joggers a day.
On the opposite side of the “Creek” is Granville Island, an industrial reclamation and redevelopment project that is heralded as one of the most successful public spaces in the world. The city transformed this brownfield industrial site into a mixed-use development with residences, artist studios, light industry, a marina, and a vast marketplace complete with a farmer’s market, a brewery, restaurants, and indoor and outdoor public space. The success that is Granville Island represents a long range joint planning strategy of the Canadian federal government and the City of Vancouver in the 1970s.
The Granville Island Trust was founded in 1976 to manage the project, and it was improved in 1978. A capital project totaling $19 million improved the physical space with walkways, roads, and play areas. Then artists’ studios and retail began to fill the space, and today it continues to be one of a great public space, both for tourists and Vancouver’s inhabitants.
The island benefits from the character of the former industrial buildings and even retained the preexisting railroad tracks to create pedestrian walkways. The entire False Creek waterfront is united by the Seawalk, a recreational trail that maintains public access to the water at all points. It connects residential neighborhoods, to the University of British Columbia, to the forthcoming Olympic Village.
The establishment of the Seawalk has been crucial to the success of False Creek’s rise to one of the premier urban areas in the world. Vancouver’s strategy for False Creek shows that waterfront redevelopment projects adjacent to downtown areas can succeed if they are well-planned, make the best use of the existing assets of the site, and have a sustained vision for long term implementation.More Information: