A Neighbourhood Betrayed – Vancouver Fails To Respond To The Squamish Nation’s Generational Gift

Arbutus Greenway (planning update) – False Creek ODP Amendment – 1595 West 2nd Ave (1700 Fir St)
As it was designed in the 1970s by many of the architects, city planners and politicians who call it home today, False Creek South is a rather unique community. From our experiences during its recent neighbourhood planning process, Darren and I know these individuals understand the impact of public engagment. Which is why we were not surprised over 100 people turned out to see what was proposed for a piece of city-owned land at the north end of the Arbutus Greenway.

A few people were unaware of this corridor’s complicated history, which reached the Supreme Court of Canada in 2006. After CP Rail tore out its gardens in 2016, the city agreed to purchase this rail line for 55 million dollars. However, that agreement had several conditions, including one that required rezoning guidelines be created within four years (9.5). Any parcels not needed for a streetcar or greenway could be repurchased for 1 dollar or sold for a share of the profits (10.5 & 11.1).

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As the planning process determined these sections between 2nd and 5th Avenue were too narrow to host this service and the greenway, they qualify under the excess requirement. That will not prohibit the long-discussed streetcar from tying into the disused Olympic Line, as its tracks will now follow Fir Street and 2nd Avenue instead. Meanwhile, as bikes and rails are a bad combination, cyclists were relieved to learn Pine Street will host a new bike route to the Seawall.

These new routes will not isolate the expected redevelopment of the shuttered Molson Brewery as it will be served by a thee-way rail junction at the intersection of 2nd Avenue and Fir. Assuming the Squamish Nation move forward with their project at the Senakw, it is likely an agreement could be reached to service it as well. That “gift” to Vancouver captured the night’s attention, as these two buildings with four and six floors are tiny in comparison.

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-Source (pg 15)

Yet some did not want to see any new development in the neighbourhood. As the land lease negotiations for the various tenures (pg 6) in False Creek South have shown little progress, these individuals were hurt as their needs were not being addressed. Though I firmly believe no one should be displaced, based on conversations in the room, I worry their idea of fair market value might be unreasonable, and I fail to understand how paying property taxes gives them the upper hand.

Unfortunately, this has created a lot of distrust, as several feared this small issue was a done deal, and their opinions would be ignored. Others agreed this process was a waste of time, as the City-wide Plan and Broadway Plan consultations were far more important. Obviously those polices will dramatically reshape our city, but the opportunity to add affordable housing on city-owned land should not be wasted. So, make sure to read the information boards, and leave your thoughts here before Spring 2020.

2 thoughts on “A Neighbourhood Betrayed – Vancouver Fails To Respond To The Squamish Nation’s Generational Gift

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  1. I’m curious what staff said about cycling routes (especially seaside bypass), because the display boards only show green paint bike lanes in one rendering that conflict with the proposed location of the streetcar tracks in the street plan layout

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    1. I am embarrassed to admit it, but not only did we fail to notice the green paint in the images, neither Darren nor I thought to ask what changes would be made to the Seaside Bypass along W 1st Avenue.

      Rather, we learned about the city’s intention for a West 5th Avenue / Pine Street / Seawall Connector during the Arbutus Corridor planning process. You can see the layout on page 17 of this staff report, which was presented to city council in 2018.

      Click to access cfsc3.pdf

      That said, our understanding from that process is that regionally the streetcar was considered a low priority, though the Senakw Project and Molson Lands redevelopment may change that.

      Ultimately, the best place to send any questions we have been unable to answer would be to the city’s project team at arbutusgreenway@vancouver.ca

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