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Vancouver approves Arbutus Greenway design that fully extends to False Creek and Fraser River

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Kenneth Chan Jul 11, 2018 5:37 pm 2,367

The current bike and pedestrian paths on the nine-km-long Arbutus Greenway are meant to be temporary, as the City of Vancouver plans to rebuild the corridor with a permanent design entailing higher-quality finishings, new parks and open spaces, and a configuration for the future streetcar line.

And earlier this afternoon, Vancouver City Council unanimously approved the high-level concept for the permanent greenway, effectively allowing City staff to proceed with the detailed design process and an analysis of how much the first phase of the project will cost.

Eight distinct character zones have been created in the early plans for the Greenway, providing a varying range of greenway designs.

Map of the Arbutus Greenway’s design zones. (City of Vancouver)

As part of the first phase – subject to a future City Council’s approval and the availability of funding – in the 2019-2022 capital plan, The Lookout (Zone 8 from Southwest Marine Drive to Milton Street) and The Ridge (Zone 3 from West 16th Avenue to West King Edward Street) are envisioned to be built first.

The Lookout, the southernmost zone of the current Greenway alignment, features an accessible, multi-storey, observation deck/lookout structure, hence the name, near William Mackie Park to provide users with views of the Fraser River Delta, Vancouver International Airport, and the San Juan Islands. Meanwhile, The Ridge provides one of the widest points of the Greenway, and consists of distinct landscaping with nooks to sit and relax or socialize.

Additionally, the first phase by 2022 includes plans for a southern extension of the Greenway to the Hudson street-end park and the Fraser River, a northern extension to False Creek seawall, short-term spot improvements for safety and comfort, and the coordination with the Park Board for the planning of the new park in the area of West 6th Avenue and Fir Street.

The cost of building the first phase will be covered from a combination of community amenity contributions (CACs) from new developments in the area and external sources. Additionally, the City is aiming to secure at least 50% of the funding required from the provincial and federal governments.

Some of the funding could also come from the sale of the “excess lands” between West 37th Avenue and West 40th Avenue and north of West 5th Avenue that will not be used for the Greenway. Under the 2016 purchase agreement, Canadian Pacific would receive a portion of the proceeds generated from redevelopment, and under certain situations it could repurchase the corridor lands between West 1st Avenue and West 5th Avenue.

Excess lands of the Arbutus Greenway near False Creek. (City of Vancouver)

As for the future streetcar route, both rail tracks will be located on the Greenway, except for the narrow span between West 8th Avenue and West 16th Avenue, where the corridor is too narrow. Instead, the northbound track will run on the northbound curb lane of Arbutus Street.

There is currently no anticipated timeline or budget for the construction of the streetcar, and any project would certainly require TransLink’s involvement.

Here are the approved conceptual designs of the future permanent Arbutus Greenway and the future streetcar configuration:

Zone 1: “Harvest Table” – West 6th Avenue at Fir Street to Broadway

This “Harvest Table” zone, as the name suggests, will have a community garden focus along its edge. There will also be edible landscaping, long community tables for “dining al fresco with neighbours,” and a flexible space for pop-up activities.

A small plaza at Burrard Street will “celebrate the beginning of the greenway.”

First phase design

Artistic rendering of the Arbutus Greenway. (City of Vancouver)

Artistic rendering of the Arbutus Greenway at West 6th Avenue and Fir Street and West Broadway. (City of Vancouver)

Artistic rendering of the Arbutus Greenway. (City of Vancouver)

Future phase design with streetcar

Artistic rendering of the Arbutus Greenway. (City of Vancouver)

Zone 2: “Electric Alley” – West Broadway to 16th Avenue

Within the “Electric Alley,” there will be activated spaces to create a place not only for movement but also a place to linger.

This zone will use adjacent buildings to provide an urban backdrop, which is enhanced by large overhead frames for public art, overhead lighting, and weather protection.

Two plaza areas will be created along this zone, with one at West Broadway to provide a connection to SkyTrain’s underground Broadway extension and a second at West 16th Avenue.

Due to the narrow width of the corridor and the planned uses of the greenway, the City is proposing to run the northbound track of the streetcar along the northbound curb lane on Arbutus Street.

First phase design

Artistic rendering of the Arbutus Greenway. (City of Vancouver)

Artistic rendering of the Arbutus Greenway. (City of Vancouver)

Artistic rendering of the Arbutus Greenway. (City of Vancouver)

Future phase design with streetcar

Artistic rendering of the Arbutus Greenway. (City of Vancouver)

Zone 3: “The Ridge” – 16th Avenue to King Edward Avenue

South of West 16th Avenue, the greenway widens considerably and provides users with mountain views to the north.

“The distinct landscaping in this area is a defining feature with nooks to sit and relax or socialize,” says the City. “The landscaping also doubles as a place for urban ecology, including pollinator gardens and habitat boxes for birds, bees, and bats.”

The streetcar tracks will run along the western side of the corridor, next to Arbutus Street.

First phase design

Artistic rendering of the Arbutus Greenway. (City of Vancouver)

Artistic rendering of the Arbutus Greenway. (City of Vancouver)

Artistic rendering of the Arbutus Greenway. (City of Vancouver)

Future phase design with streetcar

Artistic rendering of the Arbutus Greenway. (City of Vancouver)

Zone 4: “The Woodland Bend” – King Edward Avenue to 37th Avenue

The greenway begins an uphill climb south of King Edward Avenue, and this climb is greatest between West 33rd Avenue and West 37th Avenue.

Within this section, the greenway is framed by tall trees and other large plants. Along the so-called “Woodland Bend,” there will be lookout points to provide breathtaking views of the mountains, including multiple places to sit and relax. Fitness equipment will also be provided for further recreational opportunities.

However, these areas and recreational equipment could in interim installations as these spaces will be required for the dual tracks of the future streetcar.

Artistic rendering of the Arbutus Greenway. (City of Vancouver)

Artistic rendering of the Arbutus Greenway. (City of Vancouver)

Future phase design with streetcar

Artistic rendering of the Arbutus Greenway. (City of Vancouver)

Zone 5: “Kerrydale Pass” – 37th Avenue to 49th Avenue

Large plaza spaces are planned for the largest retail and civic hub on the greenway.

“A plaza provides a vibrant place for performance, programming, entertaining, and celebration,” says the City. “Traveling through Kerrydale Pass greenway users encounter a variety of gathering areas, place to sit and relax, and informal gardens.”

For the city block immediately north of West 41st Avenue, the plaza could have elements such as a coffee shop and overhead frames for lighting and public art. The future streetcar will run along the western side of the greenway.

Some changes will be required to the major intersection at West 41st Avenue and Arbutus Street to accommodate the streetcar.

First phase design

Artistic rendering of the Arbutus Greenway. (City of Vancouver)

Artistic rendering of the Arbutus Greenway. (City of Vancouver)

Artistic rendering of the Arbutus Greenway. (City of Vancouver)

Future phase design with streetcar

Artistic rendering of the Arbutus Greenway. (City of Vancouver)

Zone 6: “Garden Path” – 49th Avenue to 57th Avenue

The design of the greenway at West 54th Avenue and East Boulevard within the “Garden Path” zone could contain a wetland with boardwalk, native trees and plantings, seating, overhead frames for lights and public art, and a community kiosk with a public toilet, wash station, and toolshed.

The streetcar tracks are located on the western side of the greenway in this zone.

First phase design

Artistic rendering of the Arbutus Greenway. (City of Vancouver)

Artistic rendering of the Arbutus Greenway. (City of Vancouver)

Artistic rendering of the Arbutus Greenway. (City of Vancouver)

Future phase design with streetcar

Artistic rendering of the Arbutus Greenway. (City of Vancouver)

Zone 7: “Marpole Meander” – 57th Avenue to Southwest Marine Drive

An existing large community garden at West 60th Avenue will remain, and there will be ping pong and game board tables, a giant chessboard, hammocks, bike skills course, community “sharing” shed, and overhead frames for lights and public art.

Like the previous zone, the streetcar tracks will be located on the western side of the greenway.

First phase design

Artistic rendering of the Arbutus Greenway. (City of Vancouver)

Artistic rendering of the Arbutus Greenway. (City of Vancouver)

Future phase design with streetcar

Artistic rendering of the Arbutus Greenway. (City of Vancouver)

Zone 8: “The Lookout” – Southwest Marine Drive to Milton Street

The southernmost and final zone of the Arbutus Greenway will boast a multi-storey lookout near William Mackie Park. It is intended to provide views of the Fraser River Delta, Vancouver International Airport, and the San Juan Islands.

First phase design

Artistic rendering of the Arbutus Greenway. (City of Vancouver)

Artistic rendering of the Arbutus Greenway. (City of Vancouver)

Artistic rendering of the Arbutus Greenway. (City of Vancouver)

Future phase design with streetcar

Artistic rendering of the Arbutus Greenway. (City of Vancouver)

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Kenneth Chan
National Features Editor at Daily Hive, the evolution of Vancity Buzz. He covers local architecture, urban issues, politics, business, retail, economic development, transportation and infrastructure, and the travel industry. Kenneth is also a Co-Founder of New Year's Eve Vancouver. Connect with him at kenneth[at]dailyhive.com

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