October 9, 2020

Risk-Taking on the North Shore, CNV-style

North Van City does it again.  Whenever the City or Park Board of Vancouver looks like they will consider doing something risky – like allowing liquor to be consumed in parks and public spaces – CNV does it first.  Curbside patios?  CNV did it years ago on Lonsdale.

And now as Vancouver just starts the process for the redesign of Beach/Pacific, CNV will redo Esplanade – a six-lane arterial the divides Lower Lonsdale:

The English Bay masterplan is a different kind of project, at a different scale, and definitely not the first time for Vancouver has redone a vehicle-dominant arterial. (Burrard and Hornby Streets!)    But this a major step in Metro for a small municipality to undertake.  Not without some nervousness.

The Esplanade) corridor works fairly well for transit, goods movement and people in passenger vehicles. It is, however, not an optimal experience for people on foot, travelling by bike or for local businesses.

Cycling groups have been adamant the street’s bicycle infrastructure must be improved from the current painted bike lanes sandwiched between the road and the curbside parking.

Coun. Holly Back signaled she would be very protective of parking out front of businesses.  “That’s a major concern for me, having been in business in lower Lonsdale. I totally understand the safety concerns for cyclists and everyone else but those businesses are going to suffer hugely,” she said, adding she hopes the Lower Lonsdale BIA will be included in the consultations. …

Mayor Linda Buchanan said the city depends on the Esplanade corridor for a lot of things and warned that Complete Street Project will have to balance those many needs.


“This is as a trucking route. We can’t take trucking off of this. It’s a major road network for TransLink, and we do need to be able to move goods,” she said. “I just want to make sure that when we are engaging with the public that they are very clear on what are the givens for this road – what can change and what can’t change.

This isn’t the first time that CNV has redone a honking wide road to change from Motordom to Complete Street.  Follow Third east to Moodyville and see for yourself.

The half dozen blocks from 3rd to 1st, St Davids to Queensbury, are converting from Fifties housing stock to what’s now called the Missing Middle – low to medium-rise townhouses and apartments – in one of the largest rezoning of its kind.  Another example of how CNV takes lessons from other places and does its own version, often as a leader as much as follower.




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  1. They’ve just finished major construction and repaving on Nanaimo from 1st Ave to north of Hastings, and they’ve changed the street profile from parking + 2 through lanes in each direction to parking + buffer + bike lane + 1 through lane in each direction as well as a two-way left turn lane in the centre. The reduction in through lanes seems like a loss for motorists, but the addition of a dedicated left turn lane plus dedicated right turn bays at each intersection means that nobody will get stuck behind turning traffic any more. I think it’s going to be a win-win.

    I suspect that something like this could work pretty well on Esplanade as well.

  2. The CNV population doubled in the last 50 yrs , Vancouver has not.( only about 50% increase)
    Because of many changes in Vancouver to management team not much progressive ideas are done.

  3. This is great news. A process that takes all concerns into consideration has potential to work out really well.
    Councillor Back will need to learn more about how customers get to businesses these days.

  4. The redevelopment of east 3rd street is certainly noteworthy, but was never a “honking wide road”. It was 1 lane + parking in each direction and parking was allowed full time so there was never more than a single lane in each direction. Sidewalks, where they even existed, were immediately adjacent to the curb. The redevelopment has much larger setbacks. As you can see in your own photo above the sidewalk on the south side is about 2m from the bus lane that replaced the parking lane.
    Esplanade is a different beast. As noted in the article it’s a major goods movement route. Huge transport trucks use the route to get from Hwy 1 and the port facilities east of the Quay to the port facilities west of the Quay. There are virtually no alternative routes for those trucks. It would make no sense to have them go up the cut on the Highway and then have to come back down on a residential street or crowded shopping street like Lonsdale. There are already too many heavy trucks on Lonsdale as it is.
    Esplanade is also home to 7 bus routes that recently gained an exclusive left turn signal to get into the Quay bus loop. As is becoming common in North Vancouver, that signal features an advance pedestrian signal allowing those walking across Esplanade to get part way across before traffic is allowed to move.