Mount Pleasant

Olympic Village during the 2010 Olympics.
Olympic Village during the 2010 Olympics.
Mount Pleasant is that short section of southern False Creek from Cambie Bridge over to the end of False Creek at Science World. It’s not a well-known name for that seaside area, perhaps because no one lived there for many decades until just recently. But now with industry giving over within the last decade to new residential development providing for a population of over 10,000, south east False Creek adds a new seaside identity to the largely up-slope and eastern Mount Pleasant district.

Science World and south-east False Creek (Olympic Village). May 2010.
Science World and south-east False Creek (Olympic Village). May 2010.
“The Village on False Creek” development is the former 2010 Olympic Athlete’s Village between Ontario and Columbia Streets, and consists of condos and rental units. There’s a London Drugs in the complex as well as restaurants and coffee shops. If you need anything else, Cambie Street to the west has some big box stores like Best Buy and Canadian Tire and Home Depot as well as supermarkets. Mountain Equipment Coop has bike parts at 130 West Broadway just up Columbia Street.

Creekside Community Recreation Centre offers water and washrooms, as well as a restaurant with a popular outdoor deck.

Ride near the water on a separate bike path. West of the community centre the bike path seems to open into a plaza adjacent to the bike path. Watch for cyclists suddenly cutting out of the bike path over there. They don’t look before turning and it’s dangerous. That plaza design ignores the reality of bike traffic.

In icy weather watch for those smooth concrete dividers on the bike path. They’re very slippery.

Mount Pleasant (1.1 km/0.7 mi):


Building the Olympic Athlete's Village (2008).
Building the Olympic Athlete’s Village (2008).
This new residential development, including the former Olympic athlete’s village (now called “Village on False Creek”), has been done under the strictest guidelines for environmental sustainability to make it “a leading model of sustainable development.” Ever aware of its past, south east False Creek aims to make up for decades of degradation by living lightly on the land …and changing its identity.

Riding On: Adjoining Seaside Routes

West: North past Science World and around to the other side of False Creek. On the north (downtown) shore travel west to Yaletown.

West: On the south shore, pass under Cambie Bride to Fairview.

History

Stuart's pocket map of Vancouver, B.C. Published 1893.
Stuart’s pocket map of Vancouver. 1893.

In Mount Pleasant north-south streets south of the Creek are roughly named after provinces as they were when the streets were laid out in 1888. Consequently there’s no Newfoundland-Labrador street, and late-comers to confederation were fit in as they could be. As the provinces go, so are the streets arranged in order from east to west. Science World is between Quebec and Ontario, with the venerable downtown street Columbia pre-empting Saskatchewan as it picks up again from across the Creek. Saskatchewan is hard to spell and there was already a road named Saskatchewan nearby, so it’s not there. Yukon is just before the Cambie bridge.

South of False Creek east-west streets are numbered from 1st on up. The water’s edge was once at First.

False Creek including shipyards and east Vancouver. Mt Pleasant is bottom right.
Aerial view of the end of False Creek including shipyards and east Vancouver. Mt Pleasant is bottom right.
Science World was built for Expo ’86 and is on a platform over the water. Originally there was no land here, just a narrowing of the inlet formed by two opposing fingers of land that stretched out to almost reach each other from opposite sides of the Creek. Beyond, the Creek continued as shallow muddy flats all the way east over to Clark Street about two kilometers in the distance.

The gap was quickly bridged where Main Street is now in the nineteenth century. Then the whole 123 hectare area of the flats beyond Main Street was filled in around WW1 leaving us with a railway station, a Home Depot at the end of Terminal, and sundry other retail and industrial pursuits including a paint store, a rug dealer and a furniture liquidator. The city is mulling other uses for the False Creek flats, but digging it up again and putting in more half-million dollar water-side condos including 4.5 kilometers more of seaside bike paths1 hasn’t been suggested.

Early stages in building the Olympic Athlete's Village (2007).
Early stages: the Olympic Athlete’s Village in 2007.
As the former 2010 Olympic Village renamed, “The Village on False Creek” is a pretentious name for a former parking lot that was never so grandly exalted as to be called “The Parking Lot.” This is low land consisting mostly of large stone and gravel fill as far up as First Avenue. Prior to being completely filled, it was a mix of fill, platforms on pilings, and coves.

The Salt building, built about 1930 in 2002.
The Salt building, built about 1930 in 2002.
The centerpiece of the development, the red Domtar Salt building stands on piles that were driven into the seabed. Barges used to load and unload at the back. During WWII the Sitka Spruce Lumber Company turned out airplane spars and other structural members from Queen Charlotte Islands (Haida Gwaii) sitka.

View of West Coast Shipbuilders Ltd. on the southeast shore of False Creek, also showing Salt Building (1943 or 1944).
West Coast Shipbuilders, showing Salt Building (1943-1944).
During the first world war, the area west of the Salt Building was the location of J. Coughlan & Sons shipbuilding. They were steel fabricators who built cargo ships during WWI and WWII under different names, finally ending up as West Coast Shipbuilders and then Canron. Before that, there was a shingle mill here.

The 2010 Olympics provided impetus for development. Industry along here had largely left long ago with a few stragglers remaining. Development began with excavating and cleaning of contaminated fill. There is still room for development on either side of the former Olympic Village. Previously located at Cambie bridge, the public works moved over to False Creek flats a few years ago. Until recently the police canine unit was housed near the bridge.

Fire at J. Coughlan & Sons Ltd.1918.
Fire at J. Coughlan & Sons Ltd.1918.
That area remains undeveloped for now. An “open play” area and more condos are in the drawings. Mount Pleasant doesn’t have many large open green spaces, but they’re in the plans for both the west and eastern ends of the south east False Creek development.

  1. With a centrepiece causeway supporting a working elevated glass rail (smoking, red-glowing with flames coming out of it) as a Randian homage to the train. []

Leave a Comment