Advocacy, education and outreach in support of Vancouver's public spaces


June 25, 2017 at 10:00 AM

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Installed, Arbutus Greenway temporary path sees plenty of use

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By Naomi Wittes Reichstein, VPSN Arbutus Greenway project lead

Over the past months, the VPSN has been advocating enthusiastically for the design of one of Vancouver’s most exciting new public amenities. Tracing the former CP rail corridor, the Arbutus Greenway stretches 9 kilometres from Marpole almost to Granville Island. Stitching neighbourhoods together over its peaceful yet varied course, it’s designed to accommodate pedestrians, cyclists and eventually a streetcar (it’s great for inline skating too!).

The temporary path is now fully paved, with lane markings to clarify separations for pedestrians and bikers. Benches have also been installed, and there’s a Mobi bikeshare station where the greenway intersects Broadway.

So what’s ahead?

Now that the temporary path is done, the City says it’ll be looking at various permanent design options over this summer, subject to public review: a process that we’ll be following closely. The City projects starting permanent construction in late 2019. Having participated as a stakeholder group in the early consultation, we’re encouraged that the overall vision for the greenway articulated by the City in its public statements and its RFP is consistent with the hopes that we and other nonprofits and individuals have expressed. The City has made it clear in its communications that it wants the greenway to function as an accessible, biodiverse connector of linked places with public art along the way, as well as a destination in its own right.

Where it comes to public art, in fact, you can see a delightful new installation of rainbow-coloured stones lining the greenway between Nanton and 33rd. Earlier in the year, the grade 2 students at York House came forth asking permission to create public art at the greenway. Rainbow Walks on the Greenway was installed in partnership with Vancouver Biennale local artist Toni Latour. If you turn the rocks over, you’ll see inspiring little messages written by the kids in their own handwriting, such as “Smile,” “Count the trees” and “Think about what this space could be.”

All that said, the VPSN continues to be concerned about the lack of safe clarity remaining at a number of the arterial intersections (e.g., 12th, King Edward, 41st, 49th). We urge the City to expedite the creation of more obvious crossings that establish priority for pedestrians and cyclists and deter parking over the greenway. (Update from June 30: A communication circulated by the City announces that next month there will be “finishing touches” made to the West 41st intersection, with “safety improvements at local intersections along the greenway” and “signage to either end of the temporary path to help visitors get to the Seawall/Granville Island and the Canada Line Bridge.”)

For further details on the temporary path, check out our earlier coverage and the City’s video.

Do you have feedback on the greenway? We’ll continue to advocate with the City, so feel free to get in touch with us. You can reach Naomi at


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