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May 6, 2018 at 10:45 AM

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Share your thoughts: Arbutus Greenway permanent design concept

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Arbutus Lookout

by Naomi W. Reichstein, VPSN Arbutus Greenway Project Lead

Today is the last day to share your thoughts on the recently revealed Arbutus Greenway design concept. Take this survey to comment on the proposal.

In a series of open houses this spring, the City of Vancouver has revealed the much-awaited proposed concept for the permanent design of the Arbutus Greenway. To see it for yourself, check out the information boards posted here. You can also see an overview in a City-produced video (below).

The concept emphasizes that the greenway is very much a transportation corridor designated for the long-range installation of light rail. Indeed, this was a provision built into the City’s original purchase agreement with Canadian Pacific. The idea, though, is that the eventual streetcar will continue to allow for pedestrian and cyclist use. While reminding us that streetcar installation depends on regional funding that hasn’t yet come through, the concept presentation emphasizes that the City is planning in such a way as to allocate sufficient room for the streetcar for the time in the future when it materializes.

Thematically, the plan divides the greenway into eight highly distinct “character zones,” each with its own flavour drawing on the local characteristics of the neighbourhoods through which the greenway runs. To allow for streetcar development while optimizing present use, the plan spells out both short-to-medium and long-term transportation aspects for each zone.

I’ll get to the different zones in a moment. One remark first, though. All along the way, I’d really like the City to retain the decommissioned utility poles remaining from the train track days. I know there are some mixed feelings about them. Personally, I love their linear geometries stretching into the horizon that give the Arbutus Greenway a frame, reminding us of the railway past and providing a consistent visual motif through the cross-section of diverse environments that the greenway traverses. This urban imagery is more interesting to me than an over-aestheticized or sanitized space would be.

Arbutus - Zone 2 - Electric Alley

Electric Alley: A concept for the Arbutus Greenway between Broadway and 16th

Here are the zones:

  1. Harvest TableW. 6th at Fir to W. Broadway: Adjacent to the existing Kitsilano community gardens, this area has the design theme of urban agriculture. Edible landscaping, community tables and parks are associated features.
  2. Electric AlleyW. Broadway to W. 16th: Right now, this stretch has the feel of a commercial alley. Drawing on this, the City proposes an urban laneway ambience, with overhead frames for installing lights and public art.
  3. The RidgeW. 16th to King Edward: With a name that recalls the bowling alley that used to be there, this stretch offers mountain views to the north. The theme stresses urban ecology, including pollinator gardens and nooks for sitting.
  4. Woodland BendKing Edward to 37th: This includes the so-called “S-curve,” the greenway’s highest point, with places to sit and contemplate the splendid views of the Coast Mountains and the city. Nestled beside the
    S-curve and below its grade is a secluded country lane offering a short detour that’s one of Vancouver’s perfect little secret walks. I happened upon it one day while walking by. In case you’d like to go find it for yourself, here’s what I’ve written about it
  5. Kerrydale Pass37th to 49th: This part passes through the Kerrisdale commercial centre. The City envisions it as the greenway’s major retail and civic hub, with a plaza for gatherings, performances and celebrations.
  6. Garden Path49th to 57th: Featuring the neighbourhood’s Victory Gardens, this part will celebrate urban agriculture and biodiversity, with a small section at 54th created for socializing.
  7. Marpole Meander57th to SW Marine: Play and recreation are the themes of this section, with a ping pong table, a bike skills course, a giant chessboard and tables.
  8. LookoutSW Marine to Milton: The kids will love the proposed all-ages two-story lookout tower, sculpturally designed, that will oversee the Fraser River, YVR and Orcas Island. Next to it will be a “nature play” area for children (see lead image).

Beyond these zones, the concept includes proposed extensions on the northern and southern ends to increase walking/cycling possibilities and improve transportation connections.

The City has been collaborating with the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh (MST) Nations on greenway design and development. The concept states that particular attention is being paid to place-naming and visible incorporation of MST culture; wayfinding through signage that includes Indigenous languages and recognizes culturally and historically significant sites; ethnobotany; and commissioning of Indigenous public art.

The road ahead

This proposed design concept is under consideration now. It will go to Council for approval in the summer. An Arbutus Greenway Master Plan will emerge in early 2019, with detailed design and construction to follow.

Stay tuned for more as we hear it!


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