False Creek’s Urban Experiment Seeks a Second Act

Part 1 of a series published in The Tyee | December 31, 2013 | Circulation: 340,000 unique monthly readers

False Creek South: An Experiment in Community from The Tyee on Vimeo.

Sky-high rents and housing prices are among Vancouver’s most pressing and persistent challenges. The answer, experts and developers say, is more “density” — packing more people into every square kilometre of Vancouver.

Proposals to “densify” several areas of the city boiled over this year into neighbourhood rebellions and even tense picket lines.

Yet overlooked in the sparring are 6,000 Vancouverites quietly living a “densified” life in a community created decades ago in a moment of unprecedented, and unrepeated, alignment of municipal, provincial and federal urban visions.

False Creek South was created 40 years ago on city-owned land in the belief that mixed-income, green and walkable neighbourhoods could foster a real downtown community in the Age of Suburbs. But now city leases and federal funding that made the project possible are ticking down to their end-dates.

Beginning with today’s special video report and continuing with three reports over coming days, Tyee Solutions Society housing reporter David P. Ball explores one of the country’s most audacious, if now long-forgotten, experiments in social and urban engineering — and finds lots to appreciate, and plenty to question, in the new millennium.

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