British Columbia

New report proposes elevator to Granville Island

Granville Island is a tourist mecca and major destination in Vancouver, but traffic snarls and poor transit service can make getting there a major pain in the neck. How about taking an elevator?

Elevator from Granville Street Bridge pitched as a way to reduce gridlock and increase island access

An elevator connecting the Granville Street Bridge and Granville Island is being proposed as a way to improve access to the often gridlocked island. (Granville Island 2040)

Granville Island may be a tourist mecca and major Vancouver destination, but getting there is often a serious pain in the neck thanks to snarled traffic and poor transit service.

That's why a new report is floating an idea that could provide island access with one touch of an elevator button.

The Granville Island elevator would connect with buses and a bike and pedestrian greenway proposed for the centre two lanes of the Granville Street Bridge. (Granville Island 2040)

Granville Island 2040: Bridging the Past & Future says that an elevator between the Granville Street Bridge and Granville Island could draw more visitors and help ensure the long-term viability of the district.

"Directly above Granville Island, a city bus passes every two minutes along the Granville Street Bridge. Finding a way to connect Granville Island to this robust bus service corridor would greatly increase visits to Granville Island," says the report.

'Vancouver icon'

According to the report, an elevator has the potential to become a "Vancouver icon," especially if the design includes a tower extending above the bridge.

Passengers going up would emerge on a viewing platform where they could take in spectacular views of the city.

Passengers going down would be delivered to the shopping and services of a reimagined Granville Island and expanded public market.

A mock-up shows the proposed bike-pedestrian bridge, which would connect the east corner of Granville Island to the False Creek seawall. (Granville Island 2040)

"By lowering the "effective distance" to the island for approximately 250,000 local downtown Vancouver residents, the elevator would greatly increase their likelihood of using Granville Island for food and convenience shopping as well as restaurants, theatres and other amenities," the report says.

If you build it, will they come?

The construction of the elevator would require a bus stop in the middle of the bridge, something workable with current city plans to turn the two centre lanes of the bridge into an elevated bike and pedestrian greenway. 

Portland's Gibbs Street pedestrian bridge connects with a bridge elevator, similar to the one proposed for Granville Island. (CBC)

"What we would need to do as a city is to look at how a bus stop would integrate with it," said City of Vancouver manager Sadhu Johnston, who was part of the Granville 2040 advisory committee."

"The bridge design work will be part of what we do in the next few years, and exploring how an elevator would fit into that would be a part of that. They wouldn't necessarily need to be built at the same time."

The Granville Island 2040 plan doesn't say how much the elevator would cost or who would pay for it and a proposed pedestrian-bike bridge that would connect the east end of the island to the False Creek seawall.

Granville Island is operated by the federal Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. 

"There's a desire to do more on the island and support more visitors," said Johnston. "We can't do that with everyone driving. It's gridlock there now, and it's becoming a situation that's not safe."