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Northeast False Creek from the air

Cultural healing with marginalized communities wins an award for planning Northeast False Creek

What we discovered along the way was that this was a very important area for historically marginalized communities, and that we had a real opportunity for cultural healing.

Gil Kelley, General Manager of Planning, Urban Design, and Sustainability

April 23 2019 –

Reconnecting communities, reconciliation, and cultural healing became the centrepiece of the Northeast False Creek planning process, and for that the City was honored Monday at an awards ceremony in San Francisco.

2019 Pierre L’Enfant International Planning Excellence Award

Vancouver has won the American Planning Association’s 2019 Pierre L’Enfant International Planning Excellence Award for the Northeast False Creek Plan. 

“The problems we were initially trying to solve were to replace the seismically weak viaducts, plan the last remaining section of False Creek shoreline, make sure that we were meeting the City’s housing goals, and create a lively waterfront space,” said Gil Kelley, General Manager of Planning, Urban Design, and Sustainability. “What we discovered along the way was that this was a very important area for historically marginalized communities, and that we had a real opportunity for cultural healing.”

“We undertook some of the most extensive community engagement that the City has ever done with residents, local business owners, and dedicated leaders from First Nations, Chinese-Canadian and Black communities. It resulted a community-shaped plan which includes a waterfront park design that acknowledges and educates about the loss of the natural environment and indigenous heritage, reconnects Chinatown to the waterfront and re-establishes the heart of Vancouver’s Black Community at Hogan’s Alley,” said Kelley.

Key principles

In a collaborative effort that took 18 months, government officials, community residents, business owners, landowners, and planners determined the priorities and four key principles of the project:

  • Livability
  • Accessibility
  • Public enjoyment
  • Inclusivity

By removing the aging Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts, the City will remove infrastructure that is vulnerable to earthquakes and other natural disasters. In its place, a new street and area design will provide better access to the waterfront and reconnect displaced communities.

Giving space and power to lead

“When the viaducts were built in the 1960s the cultural heart, economic wealth, and ability for our community to be represented was taken away from us,” said June Francis, PhD, Co-Chair, Hogan’s Alley Society. “During this planning process the City did something that I think was unprecedented. They acknowledged that they’d approached this in the wrong way and had the opportunity to get it right. The City told us that ‘Hogan’s Alley is under your stewardship, we are going to step out of the way and give you the space and the power to lead this.” 

Residents will have another opportunity to help shape the area with an upcoming park design engagement, with details on specific events and timing to be released in the near future.

Background

The Northeast False Creek Plan will result in new homes for 12,000 people, including social housing for 3,300 people, 32 acres of parks and public spaces, 8,000 new jobs and $1.7 billion in public benefits and amenities.

The Pierre L’Enfant International Planning Award recognizes planning practices and efforts undertaken outside the United States to address global issues of economic development, human settlement and social services to promote communities of lasting value. This award is given by the American Planning Association in cooperation with the International Society of City and Regional Planners (ISOCARP).

Learn more about the Northeast False Creek Plan