The “Olympic” Village on False Creek – Vancouver’s Sustainable Community
The Village on False Creek is a beautiful and vibrant community that is strangely under appreciated and undiscovered by most locals. This completely sustainable and energy efficient area is considered to be one of the most environmentally friendly communities in the world. Located just east of the Cambie St Bridge towards Science World, The Village has received a designation of stage 2 LEED Platinum from the US Building council. The community is actually being used as a template for future sustainable communities worldwide. Originally built for the 2010 Olympic games; the Athletes were housed in the Village during their stay in Vancouver. After the games, the project was re-launched and at that time “Olympic”, was dropped from the name.
Remarkably the community has it’s own Neighbourhood Energy Utility located just east of the Cambie Bridge. This is where you will see large metal tubes, which actually look like a modern work of art, come up from the ground several hundred meters into the air releasing steam and even lighting up with LEDs at night. Below the ground here, a Geo Thermal system is in place; pipes go down into the ground connecting with the city sewage system collecting heat, which is then brought up and transferred into energy. In addition, two of the buildings in The Village have solar panels that harness enough energy to sustain the buildings heat and hot water systems. The excess energy is shared throughout the community, bringing clean energy to the surrounding buildings with no fossil fuel emissions. The heating system in the suites is very unique, consisting of heating coils or pipes that are filled with hot water located in the ceiling of each unit that radiate heat downward. Energy monitoring devices are installed in each suite that measure energy and help residents save on energy use. Many of the buildings also have green roofs with gardening areas for residents to enjoy.
The Plaza is the central heart of the community; a gathering place for residents and visitors to relax and enjoy the tranquil city and water views. It is here that various venues are featured year-round: The Dragon Boat Festival, Canada Day celebrations, live music, outdoor summer movies, festivals, and parties. The large spires or towers (made from the hull of a ship) that line The Plaza light up with LED lights in the evening, giving the area a warm, cozy glow. Two giant sparrow statues represent the fragile nature of our ecology.
The Plaza features remnants from it’s history as a mill and ship yard with wood from the original docks which have been fashioned into benches for venues and ship anchors along the sea walk. The Salt Building is a beautiful and interesting landmark which was originally built in 1931 on piles over False Creek; originally a salt refinery. It has been totally refurbished and is currently home to trade shows and events. The Plaza even features an electric vehical charging station and is home to shops and restaurants such as Terra Breads, Legacy Liquor, London Drugs and Urban Fare (opening next year).
The Village is surrounded by water and green space, which is makes it a wonderful walking and cycling community. Three main bike routes link up at the Village connecting to the seawall. Located right along the water, The Creekside Community center has amazing views from every room of the facility and host a variety of activities. Landscapes and living spaces blend with areas where neighbours meet, such as benches, parks, a playground, an off leash dog area and community gardens. The grounds consist of many varieties of flowering plants and grasses that flourish year-round.
Habitat Island was created to bring nature back into the community and are home to a variety of birds including The Grey Heron which has recently returned to the area after being absent for many years. A natural water filtration system has been successful in cleaning up False Creek. Fish can be seen in the waters and Harbour Seals are regular visitors. Amazingly, a Grey Whale was even sighted coming into False Creek over the summer of 2011. Clearly these are all signs that nature is returning to the area and False Creek is much cleaner than it has ever been.
This area, previously home to shipyards and mills, has been completely transformed into a beautiful, clean, sustainable, and vibrant community. It is just a matter of time until people of Vancouver and the world discover this unique and delightful community. Meanwhile, current residents are enjoying their brand new homes and quiet waterfront community.
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