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2006 Transportation

City of Vancouver

Southeast False Creek Sustainable Transportation Strategies

Population: 545,671

Once this 32-hectare site is fully developed in 2009, Southeast False Creek (SEFC) will include a multitude of sustainable transportation features for its 14,000 new residents. As the home of the 2010 Olympic Athletes' Village, SEFC's roads are designed to accommodate pedestrians and cyclists first, followed by transit, service vehicles and, lastly, automobiles. The surrounding neighbourhood will be designed to provide all of its residents' daily and weekly services within walking distance from any point in the community. Two nearby rapid transit lines, a new cross-town bus route, streetcars and ferries will make commuting easier. It is also the first community in Canada to provide car-sharing spaces as part of the development process. The City estimates that once all strategies and transportation features are implemented at least 60 percent of daily trips by residents will not involve automobiles.


Since 1991, the City of Vancouver has been planning a model sustainable community at SEFC. The waterfront site is a former industrial area and the last large tract of undeveloped land downtown.

Downtown Vancouver faces several transportation challenges, including limited public transit capacity, traffic congestion, and high-priced land for parking. In 2002, the City adopted a Downtown Transportation Plan that aims to improve access to downtown homes and businesses. The plan includes such measures as a "Pedestrians First" policy and a network of bicycle lanes and transit routes.

Coupled with the City's transportation goals for the downtown core, years of community consultation and land planning ended around the same time that Vancouver-Whistler was granted the 2010 Winter Olympics. Choosing SEFC as the site of the Olympic Athletes' Village was the catalyst for the plan's development. It will follow the sustainable development principles that are such a priority for the International Olympic Committee.


  • Sustainable transportation strategies should decrease greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent to 50 percent compared to similar urban neighbourhoods, and by as much as 66 percent when compared with a low-density suburban development.
  • Once all the strategies are in place, cars are expected to be involved in no more than 40 percent of residents' trips in SEFC. During peak traffic periods in the afternoon, for example, short-term strategies should reduce car trips by 17 percent, and longer-term measures will decrease car trips by a further six percent.
  • The amount of road space, parking, and distance travelled by residents in private vehicles will be decreased. Fewer cars on the road will lead to safer streets.
  • Residents will enjoy more space to cycle and walk. This will save both money and time when it comes to transportation. It will also promote a healthier and more active lifestyle.

Lessons Learned

  • SET THE BAR HIGH. Mr. Bracewell notes that the City went well beyond most sustainable transportation strategies with the SEFC plan. "You have to aim high if you're going to make real improvements in sustainable transportation."
  • PLAN IN STAGES. The City recognized that it would not be able to implement all of its strategies at the same time. Instead, strategies like car sharing, community transit passes, and a new rapid transit line are to be phased in.
  • INTEGRATE YOUR STUDIES. Planning a new community requires many studies, on subjects as diverse as zoning and environmental assessments. As noted above, the City did several feasibility studies when planning SEFC's redevelopment. City staff briefed Council on how each of the studies affected the overall plan.
  • DEDICATE STAFF AND FINANCIAL RESOURCES. The City not only dedicated funds to TransLink to develop a rapid transit line; it also created a staff technical team that meets weekly to review implementation of the plan. The team consists of members from 10 City departments. "Anticipate that anything to do with sustainability will take longer than anything you have ever done before," says Mr. Bracewell.

Partners and Collaboration


  • City of Vancouver departments, including Transportation, Water, Engineering, Urban Design and Planning, the Park Board, Housing, Social Planning, Real Estate, and Finance


  • TransLink
  • FCM's Green Municipal Fund
Page Updated: 21/12/2015