Monday, December 3, 2012

A Flâneur Around False Creek

At last, this week, an opportunity to wander False Creek and in particular the new neigbourhood  on its south shore, the Athlete's Village. As a Vancouver expat it's quite an experience to descend from the Canada Line station in Yaletown and travel under False Creek (!) and connect with the new Village neighbourhood that has had such well documented birthing pains. 

Both North (where I have had opportunity to explore over the last couple of years) and South False Creek neighbourhoods are distinguished by terrific attention to public space. Especially a delight it seems to me in the now established NEFC is the attention to the smaller public spaces that link the street grid with the sea wall and parks and playing fields. Evidently these were successfully negotiated with the developer, mainly Concord Pacific and where a condo tower blocks access to the seawall with "private property" notices, you really appreciate these charming squares and small parks. In contrast to the Village, these spaces have an old-world formality which contributes a groomed and ordered neighbourhood atmosphere.

The public space in the new Village neighbourhood by comparison is wild and wooly — and wet, featuring a swampy wetland area quite popular with ducks. As you enter from the west you pass a community garden — "No picking. Please respect our food" — and a wonderfully chaotic enclosed dog run — from a Great Dane to a silly little thing that would fit in a purse and every size and variety in between and owners visting and trying to maintain some sort of order.  The peaceful formality of the north shore is welcome, but the public space and landscaping in the Village creates a distinctive, earthy ambience.

The main square is now enlivened by an upscale food store, brew pub, drug store and cafe, anchored by the Salt building restoration.

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