Vancouver Park Board commissioner wants a major expansion of Crab Park

Mar 28 2019, 7:41 pm

One Vancouver Park Board commissioner is calling on the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority (VFPA) to allow for a significant expansion of Crab Park — the downtown waterfront park east of Canada Place and north of Gastown.

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A motion written by COPE commissioner John Irwin would have the Park Board request the VFPA to allow the current leased area for Crab Park to be extended westwards by adding the four-acre parking lot immediately adjacent to the park’s leased area.

This would increase the size of the park’s size by about 50% — from 8.2 acres to over 12 acres.

Crab Park Vancouver Gastown

Crab Park in downtown Vancouver. (Google Maps)

Additionally, Irwin wants the VFPA to fund improvements to Crab Park, including enhancements to the green space, the construction of an arts and cultural centre, and the construction of a new pedestrian overpass — over the railyard — between Columbia Street and Crab Park.

The park is currently relatively inaccessible and as a result sees little utility, as it can only be accessed from the Main Street overpass from the east or Waterfront Road from the west.

“Crab Park would benefit from the addition of greenspace and a possible site for a proposed arts and cultural centre (which would include First Nations and Urban Indigenous programming),” reads his motion.

“Access to Crab Park for area residents could be greatly improved by the addition of a walkway from Columbia Street to the park.”

Irwin says a westward expansion of the park is warranted, given that an approved $320-million westward expansion of VFPA’s Centerm terminal would obscure some of the inlet and mountain views from Crab Park.

The container terminal expansion would provide much-needed capacity to Metro Vancouver’s port system, which has been experiencing rapid container volume growth. When complete, Centerm’s capacity will increase to 1.5 million TEUs — up from the existing capacity of 900,000 TEUs.

In the past, the Port of Vancouver has been ambivalent with proposals by other parties to utilize its port waterfront properties for non-port operations uses, as a strategy to reserve scarce waterfront lands near the terminals for future port operations.

For this same reason, a proposal by the Vancouver Whitecaps in the late-2000s to perform a land swap with the port for the waterfront property west of Crab Park never took off. At the time, the Whitecaps were actively exploring options for a self-funded outdoor soccer stadium with 15,000 to 30,000 seats.

The Park Board will consider Irwin’s motion in a meeting next week.

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