British Columbia

Bridge elevator, tram, part of long-term vision for Granville Island

An elevator to the Granville Bridge and reviving the street car to Olympic Village are some of ideas on offer as part of long-term plans for the future of Vancouver's Granville Island.

Ideas have been gathered from residents and stakeholders for 2040 plan

Part of Granville Island's plans for 2040 include re-envisioning the public market space. (CMHC)

A pedestrian elevator on the Granville Street Bridge and reviving the street car to Olympic Village are some of ideas on offer as part of long-term plans for the future of Vancouver's Granville Island.

The island (technically a peninsula) is owned by the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation and is one of Vancouver's top destinations for tourists and locals alike. It includes a popular public market, artist studios and theatres.

On Saturday, about 200 people attended presentations and discussions about some of the ideas gathered from nearby residents and stakeholders six months ago. 

"This presentation is really a high-level overview of the emerging vision and plan for the future of Granville Island," said Michael Stevenson, in charge of leading the review.

"The status quo is wonderful. But it's reached a certain limit. We can't increase the mix and the richness of arts activity, for example, unless we increase the activity on the commercial side."

One of the proposed ideas for long-term plans for Granville Island is including the False Creek ferry companies in Translink's Compass Card system. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Reducing car traffic

A big part of the plans includes strategies to increase foot traffic while aiming to also reduce the number of cars.

Two propositions have been put forward along those lines: include the small ferries on False Creek as part of Translink's Compass Card system, and revive the tram that ran between Granville Island and Olympic Village during the 2010 Winter Games

Other more creative options have also been suggested. One that had a few people excited Saturday was an elevator from the middle of the Granville Street Bridge that would lead straight to the Granville Island.

But the idea of putting a lot of restrictions on cars was a concern to some merchants who rely on an older clientele. 

"As an owner, I don't think that will be the best for the businesses on Granville Island," said Linnea Stamp, co-owner of Beadworks.

"It may make it a really cool atmosphere … but it's not the easiest place to get to."

Stamp, like many others, was curious to see what will happen with the Emily Carr University site, since the university is moving to Great Northern Way.  

Linnea Stamp, co-owner of Beadworks on Granville Island, says car access to the island is important for her customers. (Maryse Zeidler/CBC)

Barry Mowatt, founder and president of the Vancouver Biennale, was one member of the arts community concerned about what will happen with that space. 

"I think there's a real opportunity using the transition of the Emily Carr north building into becoming a real hub for arts groups," Mowatt said.  

He said his concerns are that the area continue to support the arts community and become more of a hub for artists. 

Some of the proposals for Granville Island include more flexible spaces for artists to use, as well as an outdoor theatre and other performance spaces. 

Barry Mowatt, founder and director of the Vancouver Biennale, says he wants Granville Island to become more of a hub for artists in Vancouver. (Maryse Zeidler/CBC)

Many attending the presentation shared the same sense of Granville Island being a unique, arts-oriented public space. 

"I've always liked Granville Island because of the arts and the culture, music," said Garfield Leong, a nearby resident who attended the last presentation of the day. 

"It's one of the more unique places in Vancouver because it's more unstructured and there aren't any big box stores. They're mostly local artists and artisans who create unique art objects."

Stevenson said the feedback will be submitted to CMHC and the final report will be ready by the end of January. 

At that point, CMHC will have to determine how to pay for the proposed changes. Stevenson said the funding will likely come from a number of sources, including government funding, public-private partnerships and internal investment. 

"[Granville Island] is a unique urban experience," he said.

"It is a place where ... experimentation and innovation and creativity can flourish, essentially funded by also quite creative experiments in commerce." 

About the Author

Maryse Zeidler


Maryse Zeidler is a reporter for CBC News in Vancouver, covering news from across British Columbia. You can reach her at