Design & Development
September 26, 2016

Granville Island — Big Ideas Fair Oct 1

After decades of rousing success, it’s time to revisit Granville Island.

On Saturday, October 1st, 2016, from 11 am – 6 pm, the public is invited to Triangle Square (between A Bread Affair and the Net Loft) on Granville Island for a Big Ideas Fair, a series of fun, family-friendly activities to gather ideas about what people like best about Granville Island today and what they think the priorities should be for the future. HCMA Architecture + Design, the lead land use and planning consultant, will offer short presentations on Granville Island 2040 at 1 pm, 3 pm, and 5 pm, and will be on hand throughout the day to answer questions about the process and principles guiding the project.

It’s been 40 years since the island was changed from a derelict industrial slum into a busy cultural and recreational centre, with a popular market and entertainment options too.
The Granville Island 2040 plan, which will set out the future of Granville Island for the next 25 years, will make recommendations for the redevelopment of the Emily Carr University buildings, revitalization of the popular Public Market, and the advancement of the arts and cultural industry on the island. It will also examine the best governance structure for the continued long-term success of Granville Island.

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I haven’t been at Granville Island for a while, but these bike parking racks look new to me.  They replace 4 motor vehicle parking spots, and by my estimate, will park around 130 bikes.  It’s a good type of rack, and the spacing is excellent.
They’re just east of the Market — a great location. Perhaps it’s another baby step towards making Granville Island more friendly to people. Maybe one day it will become permanently car-free.

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A tragedy occurred yesterday on Vancouver’s federally controlled Granville Island. Three pedestrians were struck by a vehicle apparently trying to exit one of Granville Island’s parking lots. One pedestrian died.
As a pragmatic and sympathetic colleague stated, this accident could have happened anywhere. But should it be happening on Granville Island? Should we be allowing cars coming for a daily shopping trip to be accessing Granville Island? Should we be encouraging cars to be parking off site, developing a tram service, or upgrading bus service to the island?
Granville Island was created in 1915 by the Harbour Commission and morphed into a 37 acre island of dredged land. The history of the island and its industrial past is available here. Early tenants reflected the industrial history of Vancouver with the forest, mining, construction and boating companies located here, close to water access.
One of the earliest tenants, Ocean Cement which arrived in 1917, has a lease which expires in 2046. The island still retains some of its industrial past, and the open houses hosted by Ocean Cement are legendary for children of all ages.

As befits a working waterfront, Granville Island was developed without sidewalks, curbs or pedestrian amenities specifically to ensure that loading and unloading of cargo was not fettered.
Under federal jurisdiction, CMHC (Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation)  manages Granville Island and has an advisory trust which provides guidance to CMHC’s Granville Island Office.  Towards the future, the Granville Island 2040 Plan will look at the uses for the next several decades, with an advisory committee chaired by Simon Fraser University’s vice-chancellor, Michael Stevenson. The recently announced advisory committee panel is a polyglot of passionate place makers in architecture, industry and the arts. As Dr. Stevenson notes:

Granville Island enjoys a world-renowned reputation as the epitome of successful mixed use development. Its future success is of great significance to the citizens of Vancouver as well as to our many visitors.”

As part of this visioning process the use of Granville Island for day tripping car traffic should be re-examined. While there is historic industrial traffic that will continue to serve the location, the 21st century should also reinforce sustainability, by having consumer and tourist traffic come by foot, bicycle and transit. For some reason the car has maintained  a 20th century dominance on Granville Island, with covered parking and open parking lots. Is it time for a more friendly reboot to active transportation and accessible convenient transit?

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