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New streetcar and park space design on the Arbutus Greenway revealed (RENDERINGS)

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Kenneth Chan Apr 19, 2018 4:12 pm 4,011

This is what the Arbutus Corridor could look like following its transformation into a new permanent greenway with a streetcar line, cycling and pedestrian paths, and park and “raingarden” space.

Detailed designs released by the City of Vancouver today show an elaborate vision for the Arbutus Greenway, which stretches a nine-km-long former railway path from South False Creek – just west of the south end of the Granville Street Bridge – to the Fraser River just west of TransLink’s bus depot near the Arthur Laing Bridge.

Working with private consultants, the municipal government has identified eight distinct character zones that will provide a varying range of greenway designs while also planning for the configuration of the future streetcar.

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

The streetcar travels on a “greentrack” right-of-way – a track embedded in grass – over most of its route. Along the entire route, the bike lane and pedestrian path will have a minimum width of 3.5 metres.

In some sections that are too narrow to accommodate both the greenway paths and the streetcar line, one of the streetcar directional tracks will travel on the existing roadway on Arbutus Street.

Retaining walls may also be required in certain areas, specifically on the sloped sections south of West 33rd Avenue, and hydro poles reduce the available width.

A portion of the corridor’s “excess lands” between West 37th Avenue and West 40th Avenue could be redeveloped as the area is not needed for the greenway and streetcar. The City says any potential rezoning of these sites would be considered in a separate future process.

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

Revenue generated from the redevelopment would help pay for the municipal government’s $55-million purchase of the corridor from Canadian Pacific (CP) in 2016.

Under the purchase agreement, CP could receive 75% of the first $50 million of the proceeds from any land used for development. This decreases to 50% and 25% for further increments of $50 million in proceeds, up to $150 million.

Alternatively, the railway corporation could exercise its option for the lands between West 1st and 5th Avenue leading to the Molson brewery, which would eliminate any revenue sharing possibility for any of the lands sold elsewhere along the Corridor. In this arrangement, the City will attain 50% of CP’s excess proceeds beyond $75 million.

And as it turns out, the City has since identified that it no longer needs this span and is recommending that it be removed from the Arbutus Corridor Official Development Plan. If the site is rezoned, CP has the option to reacquire these lands from the municipal government.

“The City has determined that the area between West 1st Avenue and West 5th Avenue will not be used for the future greenway,” says the City. “Staff identified a range of engineering and safety constraints, such as the impact of additional signalized intersections on traffic, and therefore recommended that the City look at different routes to False Creek and Granville Island.”

There is no public estimate for how much the greenway and the streetcar could cost, but the the streetcar will likely cost far less than Surrey’s similar length, streetcar-like light rail transit system given that the Vancouver project already has a dedicated right-of-way on a former freight railway. The streetcar is dependent on regional funding from TransLink.

City Council will consider the proposed greenway design this summer and the Arbutus Greenway master plan as a whole in early-2019. If approved, the greenway will be built in multiple phases.

Here are the proposed designs of the 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)

Additional connections

The greenway could potentially be extended northwards to False Creek by a walking route to Granville Island under the Fir Street off-ramp, a walking and cycling route via Pine Street and West 1st Avenue, and a future walking and cycling route on the middle lanes of the Granville Street Bridge via West 5th Avenue.

Towards the south, there could be multiple future extensions to the Fraser River, including additional connections to the Canada Line’s Marine Drive Station via West 67th Avenue, the Canada Line Bridge bike route, and West 68th Avenue and the Arthur Laing Bridge.

It is unclear whether this includes an extension of the streetcar from the current end of the Arbutus Greenway to Marine Drive Station.

The streetcar on the Arbutus Greenway is intended to be a part of a larger future Vancouver streetcar network, with the streetcar running along the right-of-way in South False Creek to the Olympic Village.

From the Olympic Village, the route is envisioned to run northwards along Quebec Street and past Science World, with one line traveling along Pacific Boulevard towards Yaletown in North False Creek and another line through the streets of Chinatown, Gastown, and Coal Harbour to Stanley Park.

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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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