While I was staying in Vancouver last week I was able to check out some of the streetscape improvements being made due to a large public transit project.
Vancouver has been building an underground LRT route, known as the Canada Line (due to the federal government’s funding), that connects the airport to downtown along the north-south artery of Cambie Street. The line is set to open in the fall of 2009 just in time for the 2010 Winter Olympics. I stayed at 49th Ave and Cambie in a house right beside a new station. Late at night I could hear trains go by as workers tested the line.
Closer to midtown, around 20th and Cambie, is a rather tony area known as Cambie Village. Its only a few blocks from Vancouver City Hall and has become the epicentre of opposition to the Canada Line’s construction. It seems that TransLink, the local transit authority, said they were going to tunnel the underground route in order to avoid disruption at street level. But only weeks before construction began, TransLink announced they would use the disruptive cut-and-cover method, which forced a number of local businesses to go under. A group of businesses are in the midst of suing TransLink for lose of revenue, among other things.
Probably in order to placate irate store owners, Cambie Village is one of the few places along the Canada Line where streetscape improvements have been fully completed.
The image at the top of this post shows the new street signs in the neighbourhood. The icon on the right of the sign in a symbol of Vancouver’s city hall. Many of Vancouver’s neighbourhoods sport an icon on the street signs which often breaks out of the rectangular template. I like this approach much more so than Toronto’s new street signs.
Like any recently rebuilt street, the sidewalk and boulevard are clearly indicated with street furniture nicely organized. I particularly like the bench and the bike rack in the distance. The rack can hold many more bikes than Toronto’s ring-and-posts — I would prefer to see these used more widely on Toronto streets.
A close-up of the bench.
Outside of restaurants, an food icon was placed into the sidewalk. This could be an interesting legacy as retail stores often have a variety of tenants. In 5, 10 or 20 years who knows what will exist at these specific locations.
The manhole covers in the area have a water theme. This cover is one of a handful of finalists from a City of Vancouver-run design competition. The designs are now used throughout the city.
Despite Vancouver’s reputation as a green city, the city has lacked on-street recycling bins until recently. The design is certainly understated and appears nothing like Toronto’s recent garbage can addition.
All photos by Matthew Blackett