Seawall extended to front of Olympic Village

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

Jeff Lee

VANCOUVER – Some of the last vestiges of Vancouver‘s industrial history along False Creek will give way today to the opening of a new 600-metre seawall in front of the Olympic village.

For decades False Creek was part of an industrial district that featured heavy-metal industries, shipbuilders and even a barrel-maker.

Over the years, as condominium developments have moved in, much of the creek’s waterfront has been redeveloped to incorporate a seawall walkway that links the city’s west side with Stanley Park.

But until the Olympic village at the southeast end of the creek was created, pedestrians had to contend with traversing through an industrial wasteland between Cambie Bridge and Science World.

All that has now changed. The new seawall — which Mayor Sam Sullivan and Park Board chairwoman Korina Houghton will open today — is one of the last pieces in a 22-km waterfront pedestrian walkway and cycling lane that runs from Kitsilano Beach to Coal Harbour.

Only a few spots along Coal Harbour are still under development, and they will be ready in time for the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Only a concrete plant on Granville Island still serves as a reminder of the creek’s once-strategic value to heavy industry.

Last year city council approved a $14-million budget to rebuild the waterfront at the southeast end and install the seawall.

In May 2007 it gave a $12.4 million contract to Wilco Landscape Contractors.

The latest section of the seawall includes two bridges, including a 40-metre steel truss and an eight-metre clear span.

It incorporates a man-made island and saltwater wetlands in an effort to bring sea life back to what was once one of the most polluted waters in the Lower Mainland.

The city also planted more than 200 trees and used natural features such as beach logs and boulders that were reclaimed from the site.

© The Vancouver Sun 2008

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