December 27, 2018

On the Arbutus Greenway, December 25, 2018

The ancient CP railway track continues to change into one of Vancouver’s treasures.

While there a few days ago, I was reminded that the Arbutus Greenway became the subject of a classic battle between Vancouver’s citizens and a small band of preservationists, who wanted this 42-acre strip of Vancouver’s land to remain a private park for local able-bodied walkers — exclusivity defined.

That noisy clash of wills seems to me now like a preview in miniature of the upcoming one over the vast acreage of Vancouver’s land now exclusively zoned for low density. A.K.A. the “City Plan”. Blogger and pundit fodder for many years, I should think.

Read more »

Vancouver’s Arbutus Greenway is already a well-used and beloved part of the city.  Despite its evolving state, and even as the main design is heading for city council approval and funding at the July 11 meeting (starting at 0930), people are using it for lots of reasons.

A research team called INTERACT (@TeamInteractCA), 44 people strong, is turning its attention to the Greenway —among other places in other cities — from the health point of view.

The question they’re asking: what is the health impact of real world urban forms?  The team hopes to provide big-data research to advance the science of building healthy cities.

Read more »

Who likes Vancouver’s plans for the Arbutus Greenway? A lot of people, it seems.  Including me, it must be said.

The City of Vancouver released this 40-page Consultation Summary Report on public responses to their spring 2018 proposed design concept.

I count 2,015 people who commented via the usual methods: online survey, Open House events (4), Advisory Committee meetings (5), and Stakeholder meetings (ongoing).

You can review my thoughts on the Greenway’s proposed design concept here; a snapshot of the results follows.

Read more »

Herb Auerbach, real-estate development consultant and author of “Placemakers” responded to this piece in the Sun on the Arbutus Greenway by Cheryl Chan:
For over 10 years I have urged the City of Vancouver to recapture the Arbutus Right of Way from
CP Rail who I believed then, and believe now, that once they ceased running trains on it they were obliged under the Transportation Act to cede the rail right of way to the Crown.
So I was pleased to learn  the City had finally acquired the right of way but was disappointed to learn that they had to pay for it.  I was also glad to hear that the current installation of a pathway and bike lanes is temporary and plans are afoot to permanently enhance what is now dubbed the “Arbutus Greenway”
So I went by Point Gray School to view the results of the “Design Jam” and speak with a number of the City representatives there.
I found little inspiration, and was further disappointed to learn that the project is in the hands of the City’s Engineering Department and not the City Planning Department.  When I asked, “why not the Planning Department?”  I was told this is just a narrow strip and has little effect on the abutting property. Of course it has effect on the abuttifng proiperties, and the Planning Department should be taking the lead on a project of this magnitude and import.
I was also disappointed to learn that the City has not given up on the idea of developing a portion of the Greenway to generate income , and I was further disappointed  to learn that the City deal only transferred the CP right of way to the Fraser River and not all the way to Steveston. The whole approach to dealing with this extraordinary opportunity to create something unique and grand,  seems lacking innovation, inspiration, vision and imagination.
Imagine a vintage  trolley car (not rapid transit) running from Science World to Steveston (and not just Granville Island as it does now or to the Fraser River as planned) and the positive impact it would have on  points along the way and the attraction it would have for tourists, and like the street cars in San Francisco would pick up and transport commuters along the way.
Imagine this right of way planted with 10,000 cherry trees and walking or riding along it and under them when they are in bloom.
Imagine the Greenway having special illumination, walkable and rideable by day and night, with points along the way for cafes where folks can rest, meet and converse.
Imagine a design which is the product of more imagination. …

Read more »

Recent development that was designed to face the Arbutus corridor, even when it was unused, decrepit, weed-strewn and rusting, was the right decision. Offices and suites facing the greenway will be the most valuable.

The temporary path is not complete. Jersey barriers block the way at the cross-streets; signs say pedestrians and cyclists should not do the obvious thing and cross the arterials at mid-block.  Instead, jog down to the signaled intersections.  Which they don’t.

They do the obvious thing.

Arbutus has been transformed once already.

And there’s lots more to come.


Read more »