Ugly duckling to swan…
The reclamation of industrial land transforms an old-time Vancouver area to a picturesque and prized waterfront for all.
False Creek has a number of schooling options available to all ages. The False Creek Elementary School lies directly within the boundaries, with Henry Hudson Elementary and Tennyson Elementary within a short distance.
There are plans for the construction of a new elementary school on the site of the Olympic Village. Situated just outside the official boundaries of False Creek, Kitsilano Secondary School offers some of the finest day – and night – classes. If your interest lies more in the private school direction, Madrona School, St. John’s International School and St. Augustine’s are all within a short driving distance. The acclaimed Emily Carr Institute, offering superior education to the artistically inclined, can be found on Granville Island.
…model of sustainability, incorporating forward thinking
Location & History
False Creek is one of Vancouver’s most picturesque and upcoming waterfront neighbourhoods. The south boundary of West 6th Avenue (which goes from being West 4th from Burrard Street to under the Granville Bridge where it turns into West 6th before becoming West 2nd at the Cambie Street Bridge underpass) is naturally balanced by the northern boundary of the False Creek waterway. Burrard Street on the west and Ontario Street on the east squares off and completes the defined borders of the area.
False Creek can proudly boast some of the most well-known areas of Vancouver including Granville Island, the Olympic Village, Seaforth Armoury and Molson Breweries.
The area was named after the waterway of False Creek which separates downtown from the rest of the city. It was originally named by George Henry Richards during his hydrographic survey of 1856-63. The Telus World of Science visually anchors the eastern boundary while the iconic Art Deco Burrard Street Bridge visibly anchors the area on the west. During WW1, the easternmost part of False Creek actually extended all the way to Clark Drive but it was filled in by Great Northern Railway and Canadian Northern Pacific Railway in order to create the land needed for their yards and rail terminals.
False Creek was the industrial heartland of Vancouver in the 1950s consisting of sawmills and small port operations among others. In the 1960s a UBC geography professor envisioned the transformation of this site from industrial into a mixed use waterfront community. In 1968 Mr. Hardwick was elected to City Council and spearheaded the city’s redevelopment team and helped secure the participation of the federal government in the transformation planning. This was an important component since the federal government owned Granville Island. Priorities for this area – agreed upon in the design process and backed by public input – included an accessible waterfront seawall, mixed tenure housing including condos, co-op and low income housing, live-aboard marinas and a vibrant waterfront market. The plans were formalized in 1972 as the “Official Development Plan” and outlined that 1/3 of the site would be set aside for housing (with a density of 40 units per acre) with the balance of the land converted to parks, waterfront and community uses. 1991 saw a redefinition by City Council with the challenge to create a community that is the “model of sustainability, incorporating forward thinking infrastructure, strategic energy reduction, high performance buildings, and high transit access” – lofty yet attainable goals. In anticipation of the Winter Olympics of 2010, the formerly barren southeast False Creek area was transformed into a Village of modern thinking, ecological sensitivity and community interaction. The most recent changes in July of 2010 happened when City Council approved amendments to the maximum height and floor area allowance in the southeast False Creek area thus prompting a new series of construction and growth.
False Creek is an eclectic mix of retail, commercial and housing. The housing is mostly of the multi-level or townhouse style of condos and rental housing. There are very few, if any, single-family detached dwellings in this area. False Creek is interspersed with housing being built right in the midst of what used to be designated “commercial area”. The area seems to cater mostly to the baby boomers (born 1945-1965), young families, and young urban professionals all looking for the waterfront lifestyle but in an area not too far from the action of the downtown core. Leasehold and freehold housing line the borders of the scenic seawall which runs from one end of False Creek to the other.
False Creek is one of the finest areas for outdoor activities in the whole Lower Mainland. The endless seawall offers one of the most perfect walking, jogging, biking, and rollerblading venues in Canada. The waters of False Creek through the False Creek Racing Canoe Club offers courses and races in dragon boat, kayaking, outrigger boats, surfski and marathon canoe. The annual Dragon Boat Festival in False Creek is one of the premier Dragon Boat Festivals in the world and attracts teams from all over the globe.
The False Creek Community Centre on Granville Island offers recreational programs for all ages including fitness, water-sports, dance classes, yoga and tennis courts. The newly opened Creekside Community Centre at the Olympic Village is a multi-recreation venue that offers a full size basketball court, a full size gym, an aerobics studio, fitness centre, arts and crafts rooms, a games room and over 6000 square feet of retail and commercial space and meeting rooms. The facility also offers a daycare with outdoor play area.
To satisfy the more artistic side of one nature, there are the live venues of the Arts Club Theatre and Backstage Lounge, the art galleries of Granville Island including Performance Works, and the Arts Umbrella offering courses in dance, art, gym, performance and music for children of all ages.
Shopping is anchored by the world famous crown jewel, Granville Island. Wholly owned and managed by the federal government, Granville Island is a mixture of art studios, design studios, performance art organizations, restaurants, lounges, a small hotel, and the well known and jam-packed Granville Island Public Market. Granville Island exudes creativity, lifestyle, community and individuality and extols at all times the beauty of its surroundings. The one thing you will not find on Granville Island is a big box store or any large corporate franchises. The government has decided that the corporate philosophy of these enterprises does not fit in with the community spirited mandate of the “island”.
But shopping is by no means limited to Granville Island. In the north western corner of False Creek, a new district entitled “The Armoury” has emerged. Design houses, interior design stores, lighting fixtures, designer furniture, high-end carpets, modern antiques and furnishings – these are all commercial tenants who are now working out of “The Armoury” district. Interspersed in the midst of these types of retails stores are French bakeries, one of the finest cheese shops in town, not to mention music business royalty with the likes of Feldman and Associates, Nettwerk Records and Siegel Entertainment.
For everyday needs, the new Olympic Village development is home to a liquor store, major grocery store, London Drugs, drycleaners and Subway. The recently opened Terra Breads situated right on the edge of the Olympic Village Plaza, along with the seawall overlooking all of downtown, has helped False Creek become the vibrant new meeting place and hub of this amazing development.
The mandate of the 1991 Council included the need to provide “high transit access”. This has become an unparalleled success story. Not only is the area well serviced by Coast Mountain Bus but the newly opened Canada Line (with its tunnel directly under False Creek connecting downtown to the rest of the lower mainland) has stations at the Olympic Village as well as the nearby transportation hub of Cambie and Broadway.
For the visitor and resident alike there are the unique water ferry services offered by the Aquabus and False Creek Ferries. These are both private enterprise companies who offer small ferry service to numerous landing points across the water near the downtown core. This is not only a tourist’s dream to travel and see the city at its finest, but it also provides residents (on both sides of the water) a spectacular and traffic-free way of commuting between downtown and the wonders of False Creek.
False Creek also has the refurbished (early 1940s) interurban Streetcar that runs between Granville Island and Science World (TELUS World of Science) during the summer months.