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UBC Theses and Dissertations

False Creek development: a study of the actions and interactions of the three levels of government as they affected public and private development of the waterway and its land basin Churchill, Dennis Michael


This is a study of administrative confusion and uncertainty which has beset development of an important part of Vancouver's industrial waterfront. False Creek is a two-mile long, twenty-foot deep inlet. Half the residential area of Vancouver is separated from the commercial center by this waterway and its shore is extensively occupied by industry. Originally the inlet was more than twice its present size, but the eastern half and a central mud-flat "bay" were reclaimed by the federal government prior to the First World War. Until 1924 the federal government claimed title to the bed and foreshore but in that year acknowledged the province's claim. It retained, however, the reclaimed area known as Granville Island and owns a large tract of Indian reserve land near the False Creek mouth. At the turn of the century the city was given title to the eastern half of the bed and foreshore, and later made the reclaimed portion available to the Great Northern and Canadian National Railways. The Canadian Pacific Railway owns almost all the upland lots on both the north and south shore of the waterway as it exists today. These are occupied either as terminal yards or under lease. Headlines have been established along its shore and the Navigable Waters Protection Act applies. False Creek has been a problem area because it is both an obstacle and an industrial area of high utility and potential. The city administration has been able to cope with the former, limited only by the funds available. Any over-all development, however, has been virtually impossible because of: 1) a confusion (before 1924) as to the spheres of responsibility of the senior governments, 2) their tendency generally to act without consideration for the over-all development, and 3) the total lack of co-operation between themselves or with the city in furthering comprehensive economic development. This has meant that the only development, apart from the federal reclamation, has been the result of private enterprise. It has been the good fortune of the city that this has never, yet, been contrary to the over-all potentialities of the area. Recent action by the federal government indicates that the Indian reserve property may be disposed of for purposes inimical to the best economic use of the shore. There appears to be no possibility of the city developing the waterway comprehensively by its own efforts, nor any likelihood that either or both senior governments will do so. The answer may lie in a statutory corporation publicly and privately owned, perhaps on the order of the English "mixed undertaking". Such or similar action would be facilitated if the city were able to acquire the False Creek land presently held by the federal government, perhaps by accepting it in payment for the city-owned (1954) airport.

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