Michael Alexander came up with a great name (‘Granville Grind’) for the opportunity to include a stairway from the Granville Bridge deck to the Island below.  It should be a necessary part of the Granville Connector – the City’s name for a centre walking and cycling path across the bridge.

There’s an online survey (here), open houses and workshops through the end of April.

Michael notes:

In the future, they say they will consider an elevator to Granville Island. If they also build a stairway, and call it the Granville Grind, it will become a destination and a challenge. But if you take the survey or visit an open house or workshop, you can push for it now.

Both the City and Granville Island should priorize an elevator and stairway now.  It is, after all, part of the Granville 2040 redevelopment vision (detailed here) and makes sense from a transportation view, providing a link for all the transit that crosses the bridge.

But best of all, it would be an attraction all on its own – at a time when active tourism has proven its worth (hello, Grouse Grind) and seems to be the big new thing.

As Michael discovered at the Vessel in New York’s Hudson Yards:

Michael: “It’s not just New York City that can make stairways into destinations.”


UPDATE:  Scot Hein adds this recollection.

I vaguely recall that Bruce Haden, the originator of the Granville Island elevator and stair proposal in August 2002 (hard for me to believe it has been 17 years), came up with that name (‘Granville Grind’). We started referring to the potential as a fitness asset by that name within city hall at that time.



  1. I’d like to see a serious drawing of just how the bus stops could work rather than a repeat of this absurdly distorted and entirely unrealistic cartoon.

    Even if you re-allocated four full MV lanes to create this greenway, if you configure the bus stops as shown on both sides you’re left with next to nothing to accommodate the greenway itself let alone an elevator and/or stairs. What you see for the bus stop is almost two lanes wide. You could stagger the stops but they’d have to be really far apart and would still leave only a two-lane-width for the MUP with little to no buffer space.

    Or you could put the bus stops at the existing sidewalks and have cross-walks back to the centre. Can’t image that will fly. Also, the curbs are really high and maybe a problem for alignments with the bus steps and access ramp.

    Anybody have any idea how this could actually work? I’m not against the idea but this visualization can’t possibly be it.

  2. None of the following is an engineering analysis, simply brainstorming 😉

    I would think that the elevator/stair tower structure would be on one side of the bridge, not through the central bridge support structure. It could essentially be self supporting, braced to the bridge structure. Just for fun, let’s make the elevator glass on three sides. And have two elevators, synchronized so that one is descending while one is ascending.

    To access it at bridge deck height, there could be a signalized crossing to the elevator tower from the path. Even if the path was on one side, you would still need this crossing to reach the bus lane going in the other direction.

    Or, instead of a signalized crossing, we could have a transverse pedestrian/cycling bridge (aka viewing platform/destination/rest stop) 6 or so metres above the bridge deck. Let’s just call it a viewing platform. The Granville Island elevators wouldn’t stop at the bridge deck, they would go straight to the viewing platform. There would be a short drop down to the path if the path wasn’t located at the same spot, also with a (short) elevator.

    Bus lanes are the next issue. It takes a lot of room for floating bus islands, and boarding may need to be on the opposite side to where the bus doors are. We could take a lesson from current vehicle overpass construction in Calgary and other locations, and use a concept from the diverging diamond exchange, which uses counter flow lanes for a short stretch in the centre of the span. Imagine the main path on one side of the bridge. Shift the vehicle lanes over, and retain 6 slightly narrower lanes. Designate the two centre lanes as bus only lanes, and have crossover access and exit points for buses only in the bus lanes, so that in the centre of the span, near the elevator, the buses are going counter flow. There would then be a single boarding platform for both directions, between the two bus lanes. Link that platform to the viewing platform

    What we likely don’t want to do is build the path elevated so much that while it can accommodate vehicles underneath it, it is a higher climb and steeper ramp for users of all modes.

    1. One elevator on each side of the bridge ——- Bus waiting shelters between bridge & elevator—- Widen existing sidewalks—- Keep pedestrians & cyclists separate with bike lanes in the middle of the bridge—–

        1. Indeed there is much potential for this bridge.

          For example, walkways or bike path could be mounted quite inexpensively below the road surface, with view platforms and/or as you state above the bridge. The bridge is really really ugly but with modest $s could serve a 21st century False Creek that isn’t industrial but residential and a magnet for tourists, walkers and bikers. I walk or bike there often but crossing over False Creek is a royal pain.

          Elevators, staircases, lower decks, upper view platforms, cafes, etc all would help the urban experience and cost far less than removing this monstrosity entirely, which should be the ultimate goal, given land values and the use of the water today vs 50-80 years ago.

  3. Hamiltonians can attest to the popularity of stairs. There are several sets climbing the Niagara Escarpment, including the “not for the faint of heart” Wentworth set.

    Difficulty Level – 5 out of 5

    These steps are the most difficult to climb for several reasons. With almost 500 steps they are the longest set of escarpment stairs. The stairs start out just a few inches apart and gradually get further apart on the upper portion of stairs so as you become more fatigued you actually have to put more effort into climbing the stairs. This will help increase a person’s VO2 Max. (Maximum intake of oxygen into the lungs.) When doing these stairs on a regular basis you may notice an improvement in your fitness level more readily than if you did any of the other escarpment stairs. This could be because the stairs are more difficult and because there are more of them. (I.e. If you were to do these escarpment stairs once every other day you could notice a difference in your ability to climb more stairs at this location in just two weeks because of your increased fitness level)

  4. Council has asked Engineering staff to open up all the options for the Greenway for analysis and public review. Apparently, there are quite a few – centre (as before), one side (as per Cambie Bridge), both sides (as per Burrard Bridge), and even under, or some combo. Hopefully not outriggers, A’s was proposed for the Burrard Bridge years ago!

    The central scenario was a default consideration due to the problems of crossing the existing off- and on ramps and loops, which make walking and biking so risky and unenjoyable. However, all three of the remaining loops are either approved to be “regularized” (the two downtown ones) or easily could be (the southwesterly one), the remaining challenge is the hazard of the ramps.

    It might be interesting to consider removing the 4th Avenue and Fir Street off ramps from the southerly end. In which case, a one-sided walking/biking facility on the desired WEST side begins to be more interesting and doable, especially if the vertical connection to Granville Island is located there.

    This is getting exciting and interesting! Please bring your creative ideas to the open houses and respond to the online survey, people!

  5. It would be interesting to go back and look at the results of the AIBC’s design competition for exactly this…. it was held back in 79/80 if I recall… and published in their magazine…

  6. Forget the expensive elevator and stairs. Just build a proper low-level pedestrian and cycling bridge from Granville Island to the foot of Howe or Hornby. Kick out the cement plant and tell the 1% boaters in False Creek to deal with it,

    1. The aggregate arrivers by barge, so the concrete from the plant uses less energy for both the delivery of the materials to make it, and the distance driven to deliver it to all the Downtown and surrounding construction site. They have a lease to 2046, so they’re safe from being ‘kicked out’.

  7. Where’s the bigger vision? LOWER bridges over False Creek. It’s not an industrial harbor anymore. Granville Bridge monstrosity would NEVER be built today. Plan for demolition and a tunnel instead.

    The only losers in this plan would be sailboats. Tough. There’s very few. 5% suffer and 95% win.

    Granville high bridge redesign is a bandaid at best.

    1. No, they it wouldn’t be built today, as a modern design would have two vehicle lanes in each direction, and wide walking and bike paths.

      But if you want to propose taking it down and then building a new crossing (a tunnel?) you need to come up with a business case. The difference with the viaducts is that taking them down and building a more functional road network at ground level is funded by the new land that is now available. What is the benefit of taking the Granville bridge down other than an easier walk over the bridge, if it was a low level bridge. And if it was a tunnel it wouldn’t be a nice walk or a nice bike ride. So maybe a vehicle tunnel and an active transportation bridge? What is the dollar value of that demolition and construction? This isn’t a vision, it is a nightmare.

      1. Like the viaducts it frees up valuable land, incl on and off ramps, on both sides. 10 more Vancouver House type buildings would be possible.

        On south shore Granville goes into / stays a tunnel that could be dug easily as False Creek is really shallow mud, emerging at 16th Ave yielding vast pedestrian zones along Granville from waters edge to 16th Ave, a huge win for the city.

        Burrard Bridge at least has some charm. This monstrosity doesn’t, its overbuilt and land is quite valuable at $160M an acre. (40,000 sq ft times FSR 8 times $500/sq ft buildable) . There’s your biz case. Plus enhanced value all along Granville to 16th on south shore.

        1. A new lower deck under the Burrard bridge could replace the Granville bridges capacity—-The existing deck could serve Burrard street—— New lower deck for Cornwall & Pacific

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