Twenty three years ago, when I left Vancouver for New York, EXPO 86 was just about to begin. A year later, Concord Pacific began the transformation of False Creek North from an industrial wasteland into a modern, vibrant, award-winning community – one of the largest urban redevelopment projects in North American history. In the process, their pedestal-style buildings helped redefine urban planning around the globe and garnered wide-spread praise for our livable urban core.
If you visit the City of Vancouver online, you can see page after page of bright, glossy photographs of pristine seawall and fulsome praise for the noteworthy development. They also list all of the amenities promised by the developer in return for the opportunity of developing the Expo lands as one contiguous project.
Fast forward twenty-two years to today, unfortunately, and the story starts to lose its lustre, because many of the promised amenities have not been delivered. The promised 35-foot-wide contiguous seawall is still not complete. Instead
of the long-promised Creekside Park, we have a Concorde Pacific showroom and acres of asphalt rented out to the highest bidder. Adding insult to injury, Concorde has operated an illegal junkyard right on the water’s edge, with acres of wire fencing and razor wire surrounding rusting metal forms, filthy shipping containers stacked two high, and junk and debris as far as the eye can see.
It’s hiding in plain sight, right next to BC Place and GM Place – two of the most important Olympic venues. Is this really the view that Concord Pacific wants visitors to take away with them? Do they really want their brand associated with a junk heap? The False Creek Residents Association has been trying for years to get them to clean up the area, but it remains covered in garbage decades later.
Regardless of whether the developer cares about the damage done to their brand every day people run, walk and cycle past this eyesore, the City and VANOC should care greatly because it will become one of the iconic images of Vancouver the world round if it’s not taken down soon.
If news reports are to be believed, the police are handing out an unprecedented number of tickets on the Downtown Eastside, in what critics allege is an effort to “clean up” the area before tourists arrive and see the squalid living conditions of some of the city’s less fortunate.
Perhaps they should turn their attention towards the illegal junkyard destroying views, polluting the water and blocking waterfront access right at the gates to the Olympics themselves. People have been asking nicely for years.