The Future of Vancouver’s viaducts

The City is reviewing the future of the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts as part of a strategic planning review of Northeast False Creek.

For a number of years, we have been exploring opportunities to replace the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts with a mostly at-grade street network. This change would allow for a larger Creekside Park, improved walking, cycling, transit, and driving options, and a new neighbourhood. In September 2015, Council will consider whether to move ahead with removing the viaducts.

History of the viaducts

The viaducts – two elevated roadways connecting Downtown Vancouver to the surrounding neighbourhoods – are remnants of a 1960s freeway plan that was never fully completed. The viaducts now act as a barrier, cutting off the surrounding neighbourhoods from the False Creek Waterfront, as well as each other.

Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts

2012 rendering for Northeast False Creek without the viaducts

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 viaduct 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

Viaduct essentials: What you need to know

Vancouver's viaducts

By City of Vancouver

Tell us what you think!

We want to know your thoughts on the future of Vancouver’s viaducts. Here's your chance to tell us what you think. Your responses will be submitted anonymously, and the information will be used to guide planning in the area.

Progress on this initiative

Advancing towards a decision on the Future of Vancouver’s viaducts

June 24, 2015 - Based on the proposed concept for the area Council voted unanimously in 2013 to move forward with the final phase of pre-planning work for removal of the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts.

Some concerns were expressed by stakeholders, which included the accuracy of the transportation analysis, the length of construction and associated traffic impacts and a commitment on the future of Malkin Avenue as an arterial connection. Council directed staff to undertake a more in-depth analysis of transportation and financial impacts of the viaducts replacement.

Over the past two years (2013-2015) City staff has been busy conducting this analysis. In summer 2015 City staff will be presenting the results of these studies to inform Council’s consideration of the future of the viaducts this September.

Come learn more about Vancouver’s viaducts at the following events

  • Thursday, June 25, 1:00pm – 7:00pm, at Pop-up City Hall, Seawall, 1800 Spyglass Place
  • Saturday, June 27, 5:00pm – 10:00pm, at Farmers' Night Market Plaza of Nations, 750 Pacific Blvd
  • Tuesday, June 30, 7:00pm – 11:00pm, at Greenest City Celebration, Roundhouse Community Centre
  • Thursday, July 9, 2:00pm – 6:00pm, at Pop-up City Hall, Roundhouse Community Centre
  • Saturday, July 11, 7:00pm – 11:00pm, at Farmers' Night Market, Plaza of Nations, 750 Pacific Blvd
  • More to come – check back for updates in September

Click to expand the timeline:

Georgia Dunsmuir Viaduct timeline June 2015

More updates on this initiative – 2013

Choose 'show more' to view previous progress updates on Vancouver’s viaducts.

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

Process

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, 09 Jul 2015 15:46:50