Senakw construction daylights century-old False Creek trestle bridge remnants (PHOTOS)

May 16 2023, 10:23 pm

Construction is currently well underway on Squamish First Nation’s Senakw rental housing complex at the south end of Burrard Street Bridge.

Site preparation on the entire 10.5-acre reserve first began last September, and excavation is now well underway on the first phase of the development on the west side of the bridge — next to Vanier Park.

In the process of clearing the site, construction crews have also brought to clear view the remnants of the Kitsilano Trestle, which is immediately east of the Burrard Bridge — right next to the bend of the seawall at Cultural Harmony Grove and in front of the First Nation’s welcome figure.

For decades, the south end of the remnants of the swing-span trestle bridge over False Creek was concealed by thick bushes, hiding it from plain sight.

Before clearing:

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Location of the remnants of the Kitsilano Trestle, concealed by bushes in this aerial, on the east side of Burrard Bridge. (Google Maps)

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The remnants of the Kitsilano Trestle concealed before the clearing of bushes. (Google Maps)

After clearing:

senakw construction kitsilano trestle bridge

Remnants of the Kitsilano Trestle bridge on Senakw’s fourth phase footprint on the east side of Burrard Bridge. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

Senakw construction

Remnants of the Kitsilano Trestle bridge on Senakw’s fourth phase footprint on the east side of Burrard Bridge. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

senakw construction kitsilano trestle bridge

Remnants of the Kitsilano Trestle bridge on Senakw’s fourth phase footprint on the east side of Burrard Bridge. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

According to Vancouver Heritage Foundation, this swing-span trestle bridge was constructed after 1902, when the original 1886-built fixed trestle built by the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) was demolished due to the restrictions it placed on ships entering False Creek, which was seeing rapidly expanding industrial uses.

The swing-span trestle bridge was part of the Arbutus Corridor railway route, continuing to South Vancouver and onto the farms of Lulu Island (Richmond) and reaching the canneries in Steveston. But it saw little use for freight due to the CPR’s decision to place its depot and railyard facilities on the north side of False Creek on the downtown Vancouver peninsula.

Starting in 1905, the trestle saw greater use from BC Electric Company’s streetcar operations, which lasted until just after the Second World War as part of the region’s complete wind-down of the streetcar network.

The trestle was demolished in 1982 ahead of Expo ’86, which removed the railyards on the north side of False Creek, and in preparation for the post-Expo uses of the Yaletown area.

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The swing Kitsilano Trestle bridge and Burrard Bridge, 1932. (City of Vancouver Archives)

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The swing Kitsilano Trestle bridge, 1941. (City of Vancouver Archives)

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The swing Kitsilano Trestle bridge and the interurban streetcars, 1949. (City of Vancouver Archives)

kitsilano trestle bridge false creek

The swing Kitsilano Trestle bridge, 1949. (City of Vancouver Archives)

kitsilano trestle bridge false creek

The swing Kitsilano Trestle bridge, 1949. (City of Vancouver Archives)

kitsilano trestle bridge false creek

The swing Kitsilano Trestle bridge, 1930. (City of Vancouver Archives)

kitsilano trestle bridge false creek

The swing Kitsilano Trestle bridge and Burrard Bridge, 1973. (City of Vancouver Archives)

kitsilano trestle bridge false creek

The swing Kitsilano Trestle bridge, 1973. (City of Vancouver Archives)

kitsilano trestle bridge false creek

The swing Kitsilano Trestle bridge, 1973. (City of Vancouver Archives)

kitsilano trestle bridge false creek

The Burrard Bridge, Kitsilano Trestle bridge, Granville Bridge, and the industrial uses of Granville Island, 1954. (City of Vancouver Archives)

Based on the Senakw plans, two rental residential towers are slated for the footprint of the trestle, which is the fourth and final phase of the project — targeted for completion in the early 2030s.

Both towers on the phase four footprint will be amongst the tallest buildings on the entire redevelopment, reaching 504 ft with 52 storeys for Tower 10 and 477 ft with 48 storeys for Tower 11, which is the building closest to the water. This phase will produce 1,502 rental homes, including 300 affordable units.

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Location of the remnants of the Kitsilano Trestle and the footprint of the fourth phase of Senakw. (Squamish First Nation)

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Site plan of the third and fourth phases of Senakw. (Squamish First Nation)

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September 2022 artistic rendering of the refined detailed design of Senakw: perspective looking south from the North False Creek seawall. (Revery Architecture/Kasian/Tandem Studios/Squamish Nation)

Each of the four phases of Senakw will produce roughly the same number of homes, generating a combined total of over 6,000 rental homes for up to 9,000 people upon full completion.

Relatively shallow excavations can be expected for Senakw due to its limited vehicle parking capacity of just 886 stalls, which is mitigated by the transportation demand measures of providing about 4,550 bike parking spaces and public transit infrastructure improvements, such as widening the south end of Burrard Bridge for an on-bridge bus stop with pull-in lanes and special bus stops — all linked to Senakw below by new pathways for pedestrians and cyclists.

Senakw construction

Construction progress on Senawk’s first phase on the west side of Burrard Bridge as of April 25, 2023. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

Senakw construction

Construction progress on Senawk’s first phase on the west side of Burrard Bridge as of April 25, 2023. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

Senakw construction

Construction progress on Senawk’s first phase on the west side of Burrard Bridge as of April 25, 2023. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

Senakw construction

Site clearing of the easternmost end of the reserve at the south end of Burrard Bridge as of April 25, 2023. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

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