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Towards a Sustainable Future

Millennium Water – Vancouver’s Olympic Village wholesale jerseys

The Challenge Series is a celebration. It’s a celebration of the planning, designing and building of Vancouver’s first sustainable neighbourhood – Millennium Water: The Southeast False Creek Olympic Village. Stretching across the southeast shore of False Creek, this new community acknowledges and builds on the historic harmony between the region’s founding peoples and the land, while recognizing and responding to the emerging challenge of climate change and its direct impact on how we live, work and enjoy the legacy of our natural environment.

Southeast False Creek (SEFC) is the last remaining large-scale waterfront property adjacent to Vancouver’s downtown peninsula. From its historic role as a centre of heavy industry, the lands are being rejuvenated under the guidance of two decades of city authorities as a model neighbourhood founded on the four pillars of sustainable community building – acknowledging social, economic and cultural values alongside a deep respect for the environment.

The Challenge Series celebrates the achievements and expertise of all those who have contributed to this significant urban renewal, beginning with the historic vision and land assembly, through the concept development of a new sustainable neighbourhood, to the delivery of more than 1.5 million square feet of built space – all being undertaken in the context of a rejuvenated urban framework and new utility infrastructure.

The Challenge Series logo is an acknowledgment of the legacy of communication and cooperation that has been the foundation of the community, design and municipal process. This partnership has led to the creativity and innovation that will make this community the first completed Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified Gold sustainable neighbourhood in Canada.

The Challenge Series is published through a sponsorship program funded by members of the Millennium Water development, design and construction team and agencies of the federal government. The eight chapters follow the community development from its early concepts through design and construction. Each chapter is researched and compiled from historic files, interviews with the participants and material relevant to the building industry’s response to the challenges of climate change, carbon footprints and responsible resource consumption.

As the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games will challenge the world’s athletes to achieve outstanding levels of personal performance, we anticipate that this publication will educate and inspire both the building industry and consumers alike to strive towards a more resilient living environment. Acknowledging the challenges and innovation inherent in this undertaking, The Challenge Series can build upon this knowledge and experience as the residential development industry moves into the coming decade. The knowledge gained demonstrates British Columbia’s and Canada’s commitment to a global future through the efforts of its people and its environmental and social policy.

I am reminded of my young nephew Steven, who, when learning that he had lost his lower left leg in a car accident after a day’s skiing, announced to his mother that the challenge for him now would be to ski for New Zealand in the Paralympics. He went on to win a gold and two bronze medals at the Salt Lake City Winter Paralympics in 2002, creating personal opportunity from personal challenge.

Such is the opportunity for our designers, builders and communities to find new and innovative ways of working and living together that balance our present needs with those of future generations.

It is in this context of knowledge sharing that the Millennium Water team offers these insights into the challenges and opportunities gleaned from two decades of collaboration and mutual cooperation. Such is the collective spirit that lies behind the renewal of the SEFC lands and the construction of the Millennium Water Village, home to the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

Roger Bayley.

Design Manager: Millennium Water – The SEFC Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Village

Chapter One Overview

Southeast False Creek, Past + Future

This introductory chapter provides a glimpse into the history, policies and personalities that shaped the development of a sustainable community in Southeast False Creek (SEFC). Formerly an important industrial hub for Vancouver, SEFC occupies a key piece of waterfront real estate adjacent to the city’s downtown core. The future of SEFC became a focal point of discussion in the early 1990s, following the city’s decision to release the SEFC lands from the industrial land base. It became clear that the redevelopment of this 80-acre centrally located site presented an opportunity to make a statement about the direction of future development in Vancouver.

In 1991, after years of discussion, consultation and weighing of options, Vancouver’s city council determined that the SEFC lands should be a model sustainable community: “On the south shore of False Creek, develop a neighbourhood that is the model of sustainability, incorporating: forward-thinking infrastructure; strategic energy reduction; high-performance buildings; and high transit access.” This proclamation marked a momentous achievement for the City of Vancouver, and a turning point toward a sustainable approach to urban design. In the ensuing years, city staff and countless people from local interest groups and the professional community became involved in the visioning process for the site’s redevelopment.

Chapter One describes SEFC’s past and future, discussing the importance of sustainable community development. It looks at the influences that led to the policy development and design of a new sustainable neighbourhood.

Global Voices

Gordon Price, Director, SFU City Program
Vancouver City Councillor from 1986 to 2002

On the shores of False Creek, the dreams of successive generations have been realized, often beyond their expectations, beginning with the greatest of them all: Canada’s national dream of a continental railway. When the trains reached their destination here, not only were a nation, a port and a city willed into being, but the creek itself became an expression of our relationship with nature.

First came industry, belching soot into the air, sewage into the water and filling in three-quarters of the creek. (It would later be dredged by the federal government and used to create Granville Island.) Those industries built a city, provisioned a navy for war, brought jobs and prosperity in peace, and eventually declined as jobs turned from blue-collar to white.

Then came green. After the City of Vancouver acquired lands along the south shore of False Creek, the city council of the early 1970s – Alderman Walter Hardwick in particular – conceived of an idyllic residential community that would express the ideals of a generation that rejected the harsh modernism of freeways and urban renewal for car-free village squares and bike-filled greenways; a place to raise children, with mixed uses and mixed incomes. It all seems so obvious now, but it was so radical then.

When it came time for the transformation of False Creek’s north shore following Expo ’86, the private and public sectors jointly built on the successes of the south shore by embracing a high-density, high-rise urbanism that eventually came to be called “Vancouverism.” The iconic skyline exemplified by the residential high-rise “point-tower-and-podium” model spread around the world.

And so, when the Southeast False Creek brownfield site came up for consideration, a new consensus proffered an alternative vision, this one closer to the ground, motivated as much by the challenges of sustainability as the desires of livability. This sustainable community would take on the critical problems facing us as producers and consumers on this planet and serve as a place of continuous learning and problem solving.

The look of the Olympic Village may be different than what came before, but the process is much the same. This combination of vision and public policy was discussed at a hundred public meetings, filtered through a dozen staff reports, redesigned by the architects, reconceived by the marketers and rehashed by the politicians. Now gracing the shores of False Creek, the Millennium Water Southeast False Creek Olympic Village is another expression of the dreams of another generation.

SEFC Village under construction seen from the Vancity building.
Danny Singer, April 14, 2009