Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts study

The viaducts study concept includes 13 features, such as a new waterfront park, reconnected communities, and an efficient street network.

The City is reviewing the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts land as part of the strategic planning review for the Eastern Core.

The viaducts – two elevated roadways connecting the Eastern Core area to downtown Vancouver – are remnants of a 1960s freeway system that was abandoned after public opposition. The viaducts now act as a barrier, cutting off neighbouhoods from the False Creek waterfront and each other.

Developing a bold, city-shaping concept plan

City planning and engineering staff worked with urban designers, and transportation and structural engineering consultants to reimagine the viaducts land. The concept proposes to:

  • Remove the viaducts structures
  • Reconfigure the road network at ground level
  • Allow for more park land and mixed-use development
  • Maintain key transportation routes to and from downtown for people and goods

Read about this project in-depth

Progress on this initiative

Help shape the Eastern Core and Northeast False Creek public consultation

July 30, 2013 – The City will undertake two parallel planning processes for Northeast False Creek and the Eastern Core. This will include the viaducts replacement and the False Creek Flats - generally bounded by Main Street, Prior/Venables Street, Clark Drive, and Great Northern Way.

Help us plan our public consultation by filling out this short questionnaire. We will use your feedback to shape the consultation to make the most of your time. This questionnaire should take approximately 15 minutes to complete and closes on Monday, August 26, 2013.

  • This questionnaire closed Monday, August 26th. 

Council votes to move forward with the final phase

June 26, 2013 - Council voted unanimously to move forward with the final phase of planning work for removal of the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts. This is expected to take up to two years. Staff will now conduct a financial analysis and develop a workplan and consultation program for the project, including how the Northeast False Creek neighbourhood will develop.

Along with optimizing opportunities for housing and public green spaces, Council asked staff to pay particular attention to strengthening the festival and entertainment function of the area, increasing the efficiency of the road network, and incorporate into the planning process an urban agriculture centre of excellence, including the potential for an urban food production centre and expanded future garden system.

Report to Council

June 25, 2013 – Staff will report back to Council on the potential removal of the viaducts, the proposed replacement street network, and related planning.

Slideshows of the Viaducts concept

January 14, 2013 – City staff created two narrated slideshow summaries of the proposed concept for the Viaducts and surrounding land.

Public consultation: open houses and public survey

May 2012 – The City held three public open houses in the first week of June 2012 about the concept plan for the viaducts and surrounding Eastern Core.

In addition to the comment forms provided at the Open Houses, the City held an online survey to gather public feedback. The survey closed on Wednesday, June 13 2012.

re:CONNECT: a public ideas competition

September 22 – November 4, 2011 – The City hosted a public ideas competition calling on Vancouver residents to join with local and international designers to dream up new possibilities for the viaducts and Eastern Core. The response was overwhelming, with over a hundred unique entries.

The competition was divided into three categories, with two unique streams: a free stream and a fee stream. In addition to the selections from the jury, there was one week of online voting to select a people's choice winner in each category.

Viaducts concept slideshows

Part 1: Exploring a New Direction

Part 2: Transportation Analysis

Studies, reports, and policies

The City has been studying the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts since 2010. To inform land use planning in this area, City staff and planners developed and reference many studies, reports, and policies.

Studies and analysis

Here are some of the key documents related to the viaducts study:

Council reports and decisions

The July 2011 report to the Standing Committee on Transportation and Traffic outlines the viaducts and False Creek Flats planning strategy.

Related policies

Project details


Building upon an initial assessment of the Georgia and Dunsmuir Viaducts, the City developed and analyzed options for removing (or partially removing) the viaducts. The study concluded:

  1. There are a number of options to modify the viaducts structurally.
  2. The transportation impacts of modifying the viaducts can be managed.
  3. Although there is soils contamination in the area, the conditions are manageable.

Study area

The viaducts were considered within the wider context of the city's eastern core—the area to the east bounded by Prior and Venables Streets, Clark Drive, Great Northern Way, and Main Street.

Map of the viaducts study area

The City of Vancouver is studying options for the Dunsmuir and Georgia Street elevated roadways, and the areas that surround them.

Public involvement

Planning of the viaducts lands is on-going. In 2011-12, the City gave the public several opportunities to have a say in the future of viaducts lands:

  • At open houses
  • In an open ideas competition
  • With initial stakeholder outreach

Open houses

In June 2012, the city hosted three open houses to gather feedback on a proposed concept for the future of the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts, and surrounding area. The open houses were well attended by over 1,000 residents. Nearly 70% of those who filled out a comment form either supported or strongly supported the concept for the area. Another 25% were opposed or strongly opposed. 

re:CONNECT public ideas competition

In September 2011 the City launched a public ideas competition to generate fresh ideas for alternate uses of the viaducts and the Eastern Core. The competition had three areas of focus:

  • Connecting the core considered the big picture – a plan for the viaducts and all of the Eastern Core.
  • Visualizing the viaducts considered the land currently occupied by the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts.
  • Wildcard considered ideas that push the envelope and revolutionize the way people think about the area.

The purpose of the ideas competition was to encourage the public, as well as international urban designers, to think creatively about the future of the viaducts. The best ideas were selected by a panel of experts in architecture, urban design, academia, and sustainability.

Members of the public were encouraged to vote online for a people's choice winner. Staff considered the ideas throughout the planning process.

Initial public outreach

At the outset of the study, planners met with representatives from the surrounding communities to talk about opportunities and constraints for planning in the Eastern Core and viaducts areas. That information, combined with input from the ideas competition, was used to generate principles to guide development of options for the viaducts area.

Project background

The first study “phase 1” revealed that removing the viaducts was possible with minimal impact, provided that the City continues to invest in transit, walking, and cycling in the area. A report, approved by Council in July 2011, recommended a more detailed study of the viaducts, including an analysis of land use, cost, development potential, and structure reconfiguration options. The Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts study was undertaken, in parallel with an Eastern Core land-use and transportation strategy.

Area history

The Georgia Viaduct was originally built in 1915 to bypass the tidal waters, rail lines, and industry below. The Georgia Viaduct was replaced and twinned with the Dunsmuir Viaduct in the early 1970’s, as the first piece of a proposed freeway system that was planned but never built.

Land use around these structures has changed a lot since the 1960s, leaving the viaducts as physical and visual barriers. As a result, the City looked into the impact of removing them.

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Viaducts study

Viaducts study

In June 2012 the City hosted an open house with display boards to show an overview of the Viaducts study.

View the boards

Last modified: Thu, 20 Jun 2013 14:23:04