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City Holler

Trish Kelly explores the issues and challenges that face our growing city.

Time to decide what we want after Vancouver's viaducts come down

There are some sweeping themes to the public feedback so far: don’t let this chunk of our city become another forest of luxury condos, let it build on the history of the city instead of erasing it, and don’t forget the arts

The city has launched its planning process for Northeast False Creek after voting last fall to remove the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts.

City of Vancouver

The city has launched its planning process for Northeast False Creek after voting last fall to remove the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts.

Last week, I attended the City’s launch party for the Northeast False Creek planning process. If you’re lost on what juicy portion of our city is being re-envisioned this time, Northeast False Creek includes all the land under and beside the viaducts, from Gore Street to the stadiums.

Hosted in the once vibrant Plaza of Nations, this really was a party, with food trucks, a bar and music. Of course, it was a party to launch a community planning process, so there were also plenty of sticky notes and earnest prompts from city staff. It was a festive and social gathering, which is quite a feat considering how heated discussion about development can get in Vancouver.

Members of the public who made their way to the party mingled with members of a citizen stewardship committee and staff working together on the redevelopment plan.

There are some sweeping themes to the public feedback so far: don’t let this chunk of our city become another forest of luxury condos, let it build on the history of the city instead of erasing it, and don’t forget the arts.

One stewardship committee member, writer and activist Wayde Compton, is feeling hopeful that the black community of Vancouver may finally see some recognition.

Hogan’s Alley, just east of Main, was home to Vancouver’s black community until it got bulldozed to make way for the viaducts. Compton has his fingers crossed for a black cultural centre to acknowledge and heal that civic misstep. He also hopes that the city can prove with this redevelopment that marginalized communities don’t have to be displaced during neighbourhood redesign.

Another attendee Barbara Chirinos, head of the Granville Island Cultural Society, said she’s hoping for a multicultural arts centre. This is another good idea, given that the area has cultural significance for the local First Nations and Chinese Canadian communities too. A multicultural or intercultural centre to bring together Vancouver’s many cultural communities wouldn’t be at a loss for programming or work to do.

Attending a launch party with glasses of wine is a lot easier than digging into staff reports on the city’s website, but even a semi-serious skim will tell you there isn’t much mention of new indoor space. Aside from recognition of the need for affordable housing units, the plan for North East False Creek is quite focussed on outdoor space; parks, outdoor performance spaces and a new skateboard park are all mentioned but I’d wager that any purpose built community spaces will only come after the condos are built and the developers have coughed up community amenity dollars.

If you want a cultural centre, you better show at the next planning party. This is how our city gets made.

Trish Kelly lives and writes in East Vancouver. Follpw her on Twitter @trishkellyc.

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