The Sun posts a fine background on the new planning process for South False Creek:
Council voted unanimously this week to approve terms of reference for a planning process for the area along the south shore between the Burrard and Cambie bridges, most of which is city-owned. This sets in motion, after years of neighbourhood engagement, the city’s planning efforts for the next phase of a great Vancouver neighbourhood, one that grew out of controversy into an icon of livability.
In 1972, a Vancouver Sun op-ed under the headline “Instant Slum” derided the False Creek South plan as far too dense for a viable community, recalled historian John Atkin.
Does False Creek hold answers? It already has.
The consequence of this …
“Life in dreamland on the creek.”
… was this:
Concord Pacific on the North Shore of False Creek
In a way South False Creek was the anti-West End. Everything Vancouverites didn’t like about that ‘concrete jungle’ was reflected in a set of guidelines drawn up in the early ’70s that became known as the Green Sheets: no highrises, much more park space, no road along the waterfront, priority for pedestrians, a ‘Pattern-Language’ vocabulary for residential design, an emphasis on accommodating families with children, and more.
At the beginning of the planning process for the Concord Pacific lands in 1988 (once the original ‘lagoons scheme’ was discarded), the City took the Green Sheets and, when adopted by Council, became the basis of the Official Development Plan for North False Creek, done by a team from the City and from Concord Pacific led by Stanley Kwok.
So while the architectural form of the two neighbourhoods looks so different in scale, their urban-design roots are similar, founded in the values of aspirational urbanism – a belief that it was possible to design complete, livable communities at high density. (For more background and analysis, see Price Tags 104, left.)
Michael Geller, in Dan Furano’s article, “remembers the backlash when he worked on the original False Creek South project. And Geller, now a real estate consultant, has been reminded of that backlash in recent years, when Vancouver neighbourhoods have pushed back against city hall’s attempts to increase density.
But he believes more home-dwellers are coming around to the idea that more False Creek-style housing, such as stacked townhouses, spread throughout the region could help improve affordability while creating vibrant, walkable neighbourhoods.
“I think people are ready to accept it now,” Geller said. “Many of the people who opposed new, higher-density housing nine or 10 years ago, are now ready to move into it, or their kids are. And that’s the reason I’m more optimistic than I was 10 years ago.”
Another lesson from the South Shore: the original mixed-use walkway, while fine when the Creek was effectively isolated and unconnected to the Seaside Greenway that would take decades more to reach both ends below the Cambie and Granville Bridges, was inadequate to safely handle the volumes of cyclists, runners and walkers which now constitute normal use. In other words, it couldn’t handle success.
Hence the redevelopment of the greenway, even at a loss to the original materials and some of the older trees, to some controversy.
Once again, something new, responding to more ambitious urban aspirations, is controversial. The West End in 60s, South False Creek in the 70s, the North Shore in the 90s. Then they become our templates for success.