May 2, 2022

Finally, Not all Quiet on the Downtown Waterfront

Here’s the latest on the work pushing Council and the city to do something special, to take advantage and unleash opportunities, on really the last bit of potentially accessible waterfront.

Here’s their vision:


 Here’s the latest on the success of the Downtown Waterfront Working Group, one of whose leaders, Chris DeMarco, provides this update on a breakthrough Council motion:

Catalysing Planning for the Future of Central Waterfront District – the City Council Resolution of  April 27, 2022

By Christina DeMarco

The Downtown Waterfront Working Group was established in 2015 for two key reasons – the first was to stop the Ice Pick, crammed in between the Waterfront Station and the Landing Building (right).

And secondly, to get some action on the rejuvenation of the “Greenest City’s Gateway” to the Downtown waterfront.


Vancouver Centre MP Honourable Hedy Fry recently hosted a roundtable on the future of the Downtown Waterfront. Her aim was to get the conversation started by getting all the interests together. She invited the Downtown Waterfront Working Group to present community perspectives and James Cheng to speak on behalf of Cadillac Fairview. Several Vancouver City councillors attended, as well as City staff, representatives from the Port, SFU Vancouver, Campus, TransLink, Metro Vancouver, PavCo, and Kerfoot’s real estate company.


On April 27, 2022 Vancouver City Council unanimously passed a resolution asking staff to get moving with plans for the Downtown Waterfront.

Councillor Kirby-Yung began the discussion by talking about the tremendous untapped potential to revitalize the waterfront.  She felt that the thinking for this long-term project is similar to those who had the foresight to protect Stanley Park and build the seawall.  Drawing on her Park Board background, she said that it was always an aspiration to get a continuous walkway/greenway around the entire Peninsula.

Councillor Hardwick, a member of the Vancouver Heritage Commission, spoke of need for heritage retention and an excellent opportunity to showcase Vancouver’s origins as a port city.

Councillor DeGenova described how pleasant and welcoming North Vancouver’s Shipyard District is and how it provides a model for what the Downtown Waterfront could become. Councillor Carr echoed the enthusiasm and noted its amazing potential as the largest transit/transportation hub in the region.

Councillor Dominato talked about her connection to the waterfront while working at Harbour Centre and often enjoying the immediate view of the harbour and mountains offered by the parking lot beside Waterfront station, despite the fact that it was parking lot and not a park, with no seating.  She asked to “get the wheels in motion:” and to think big.

Councillor Fry spoke enthusiastically about connecting the waterfront back to the City and advancing the reconciliation agenda at the same time. He flagged the importance of tying in future plans for the revitalization of the Sinclair Centre. He mentioned his inspiration had especially come from Ray Spaxman who has been championing the importance of the Downtown waterfront for decades.

The direction to staff as outlined in the resolution below is clear. As a 2023 work item, it will need the support of the next Council, as well as Provincial and Federal governments to get started. DWWG will continue to advocate against the Ice Pick (if another development application is submitted) and for a spectacular waterfront/transit hub.

The Member’s motion put forward by Councillor’s Fry and Dominato provided background rationale:

…there remains confusion and uncertainty about the future of the Central Waterfront with a number of incompatible and competing aspirations for the area. Recent public forums with Simon Fraser University, and Vancouver City Planning Commission led by the Downtown Waterfront Working Group (DWWG) have engaged and inspired stakeholders, community members and other interested parties to re-imagine the future of the Central Waterfront District

A February 4, 2022, memo from the General Manager, Planning, Urban Design and Sustainability outlined work between City of Vancouver and Vancouver Fraser Port Authority since a 2018 Letter of Intent to work together on a planning framework for the Central Waterfront. The first phase of this work has so far identified common goals, opportunities, and necessary infrastructure improvements – and engaged key stakeholders (landowners and agencies) including CP Rail, GHD Equity Holdings, Cadillac-Fairview, PavCo and TransLink.

…a comprehensive planning program for the Central Waterfront is not currently funded or resourced within the Planning and Engineering departments’ 2022 work programs but, “the City is well-placed to launch a full program in 2023, pending Council direction to do so”


  1. THAT Council re-affirms the intention to embark on planned regeneration and renewal of the Central Waterfront in collaboration with federal and provincial levels of government, the three host nations, private and community sectors;

FURTHER THAT this intention and planning inform future development proposals for the Central Waterfront District.

  1. THAT Council direct staff to re-engage partners, stakeholders, and the public with the intent to reinvigorate a comprehensive plan for the Central Waterfront District;

FURTHER THAT Council direct staff to report back with necessary budget and resourcing to commence a comprehensive planning program for the Central Waterfront District in the 2023 budget

Full motion can be found here:

Motion – Catalysing Planning for the Future of Central Waterfront District – April 26, 2022 (







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