Yes, the presence of ‘temporary’ float-plane terminal on Coal Harbour has dragged on for years.  You can read about the backstory under “Interrupted Seawall” in the Categories on the right.  Or clicking here.

But it may be coming to an end.


City Hall tells me that permission for Harbour Air to remain on the City site is only valid until Sept 20, and it is currently reviewing their decommissioning plan.

But the issues have not been resolved between Harbour Air and the other parties at this time, and a few weeks ago the company was reported to have applied for another extension.  The blowback from notified residents was immediate, and reportedly the application was withdrawn.

It would be hard to believe that the Vision Vancouver council would buckle on this, but the terminal is still there after all these years.

Will it be after September 20?

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Finally, some changes on the Coal Harbour seawall:

Harbour Air Group is asking for yet another extension (this will be the third) on the temporary dock facilities currently blocking the seawall at Coal Harbour.   Back story here.  And they’re essentially asking for an open-ended extension, “until the situation at the new facility is resolved.”

But this time it’s applying to retain the on-water facilities while removing “a portion of the access ramp to the docks and replace it with a new access ramp that avoids the area needed for seawall construction …”

They will also “remove its existing buildings/facilities onto a smaller City-owned land area adjacent to the seawall (including retaining some small buildings in place and adding some replacement prefabricated structures.)”

The result:

There are some unknowns in the description, but the rendering seems to suggest that the seawall will at last be open to the people who own it.

Yes, it could have been done sooner.  So the question now: why wait til September?  If Harbour Air Group would like to earn a few brownie points, how about an open route through the site for Canada Day?

Application documents here.

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So you would think.



I would have thought by now that it would hardly be necessary to raise a stink over the obstructions in the way of the final link – the piece of the seawall connecting downtown (and the Hornby bike lane) with Coal Harbour and Stanley Park.

But there it is: a blank wall, unsigned, telling Vancouverites and visitors that, no, you don’t get to go here.  See if you can find your way around.  Good luck.

Neither the cycling community, public space advocates, Coal Harbour residents, City Council and staff, the Park Board, Pavco, the media – and ultimately the owner of the terminal, Greg McDougall – have not been able (or cared enough) to get this right-of-way open to the public.

September, we’re promised.  But we’ve heard that before.

In the meantime, we lose another summer.

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It is on the most valuable piece of public waterfront in the city, connecting Stanley Park and downtown.  And by now it should be gone.

Here’s the motion moved by Council on June 11, 2010:

A. THAT the Director of Planning be advised that Council would favour the approval of Development Application Number DE413848 for the continued use of the Temporary Float Plane Terminal in Coal Harbour for a further period of time, not to exceed two years from permit issuance or the completion of the new permanent facility at 1001 Canada Place, whichever is first and with no option to renew.

June is here and yet the temporary float-plane terminal is still there, caught in the unpleasant negotiations among four different parties.  You can find the backstory here and here.  City Hall says they expect to resolve the problem this September.

We’ve heard that before, and seen the half-hearted effort to properly sign the route through the site.

But why wait?  Why can’t the shacks be moved a few feet back right now?  Or simply be demolished, with the operations shifted to available office space?


It needn’t involve the movement of the docks themselves, and at least provide a clear public right-of-way during the summer.

Why not?

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Okay, folks – we got suggestions for videos of Vancouver that go Beyond TourismThe quirky stuff.  The unique, the offbeat, the ones with low YouTube counts.  And even the ones that just do a great job of promotion.

Keep ’em coming.  I’ll post them here.

From sfogden:


From neil21:


From m.moonbeam:


 From george:


Most watched Youtube video:



Most stunning:


You know that dreary courtyard in the centre of Anchor Point (@ Burrard and Pacific)?  No?  Not surprising; there’s no reason to go there.  But here’s what Jordan Clarke did with it in Human Movement and Light:


And all over town here:


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I had heard there were some changes made at the Coal Harbour Connection – where a temporary route has been put through the float-plane terminal to allow passage from the Coal Harbour seawall to the convention centre.  Its inadequacies are addressed here. 

Unless I’m missing something, this is the extent of the change – another less-than-helpful sign!

So, still nothing to point to the ramp, still nothing that says explicitly that there’s a connection to the convention centre, Canada Place and, above all, the Hornby cycle track.  (Note the sign in the background that says “Temporary seawall link to Stanley Park.”  People reading that have likely come from Stanley Park!  They need to know where they can go.)

In any event, the signage overload remains unaddressed, and so cyclists follow their intuition, head straight, and end up in a cul-de-sac.  And like the guy in the picture, have to retrace their steps, facing the back of the signage, with nothing to tell them where to go.

And here’s the really pathetic part:

An existing sign, placed where confused cyclists are likely to see it, uncluttered with nothing else to distract, has no reference to bicycling.  All it would take is a magic marker to correct.  Honestly, they’re not even trying.

Anyone care to join me on Saturday, from 1 to 4, to pass out some maps and provide some guidance in person?  Let me know at

[And while we’re at it, here’s a good analysis of the deficiencies of the Seaside route, from Coal Harbour to Vanier Point, produced by the City’s Bicycle Advisory Committee for the Park Board as they consider their capital plan.  You have to unload it from Drop Box, so it takes a few minutes.  Worth the time.]

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Another check today – and on closer, much closer look, I find the connection between Coal Harbour and Canada Place is better than I thought.  But still bad.

Quick, see from the signage if you can figure out which way cyclists should go:

Answer: Up the ramp obscured by the sign on the left that says “Pedestrian Area …”  When confronted by this visual overload, ninety percent cyclists, including me, miss this – and head down the path meant for pedestrians and end up here:


In fact, there is signage along the way that tells pedestrians to follow the yellow dots and cyclists the blue.  Quick, find the dots:

Even if you notice the signs, there are no dots on the ramp.  But there are some further on.

So quick, find the blue dots:

And while you’re looking, see if you can find the arrow that tells you where to turn – especially since there’s a folding gate that suggests the route ahead is closed off.

Trick question: there’s no arrow.

Maybe there are more changes coming.  But so far: pathetic.

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Two weeks ago, there was a report that the Coal Harbour seawall was now connected to the path around the new convention centre.

Alas, it was not to be.  Even though Council had passed motions requiring a connection – and renewed the lease for the seaplane terminal that blocked the way on the condition that “a continuous connection for cyclists and pedestrians along the sea wall route (be opened) by January 2011…”

… alas, not.

So good news on Friday.  A report came in that the link was open.  Checked this afternoon it out to see if it worked.

Alas ….

Let me take you through.  Going east, heading from Harbour Green to Canada Place, here’s the west entrance:

Lots of signage – but nothing that specifically tells peds and cyclists they can make it through.   And there’s nothing a few hundred metres west on the seawall to alert those on the way.

Indeed there’s nothing to guide people when, crtiically, there’s a tight turn that requires going up a set of stairs onto a deck.  Most cyclists continue along the path straight ahead until they run into a dead end (or hidden elevator) in the underground parking garage.  Again, no signage.

It’s at this point where it’s apparent that no cared enough to deal with an obvious problem, not to mention the few thousand dollars that might have been required to build a proper ramp.

At least there’s a decent ramp that connects to the convention centre – visible and wide enough to handle volume, though signboards have been placed in the way.

My guess is that if people start to use the connection, the problems will be addressed – sooner rather than later.  And it will probably motivate everyone to resolve this issue permanently – no doubt when this temporary terminal moves into the one built into the convention centre – something that would have happened months ago but got caught up in a dispute.

Nonetheless, the temporary connection could have been built and signed at any time in the last few years.  And it wasn’t.

This is the seawall, folks.  The best public space in Canada, the icon of the city, the brand of Vancouver.  It’s what the thousands of tourists come here for.  And the operators of the terminal – who benefit from the health of the tourism industry, not to mention the health of the citizens – couldn’t find a way to do it.  Nor did the City find a way to properly sign the detour, as inadequate as it was.

Alas, no one seemed to care enough.

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Good news from City Hall.

After listening to the arguments of the several parties involved in the dispute over the floatplane terminal in Coal Harbour, Council chose to renew the lease for another two years.

But critically, Councillor Andrea Reimer applied a condition: “Temporary access to the Seawall be a condition of use …”

Specifically, she called on staff to develop a plan by September 30, 2010 “to have operators open a path through their operations to ensure a continuous connection for cyclists and pedestrians along the sea wall route by January 2011;”

It would of course be great if the seawall was open this summer, but the message was clear – a route through the terminal complex is essential to complete the connection between Canada Place and Stanley Park.

The full motion is below the break.

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