Agenda Index City of Vancouver



Standing Committee on Transportation and Traffic


Rapid Transit Office in consultation with the Directors of Current Planning and City Plans, and the General Manager of Engineering Services


Rapid Transit - Vancouver Community College SkyTrain Station Design





Staff will work with the Province on planning for the Phase 1 SkyTrain route, alignment, station locations, and station area planning.


This report informs Council about the design of the proposed Vancouver Community College SkyTrain Station, and progress on related precinct and station area planning. While plans for the station and related infrastructure are nearing completion, several issues remain to be resolved before station area planning can be completed.


On June 24, 1998 the Province announced Phase 1 of the extension of the SkyTrain system from New Westminster to Vancouver Community College (VCC) via Lougheed Highway and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway right of way. Since that time, City staff have worked with the Province through the RTPO in planning the SkyTrain alignment, station locations and surrounding precinct areas, as well as monitoring construction.

The Province is not obligated to acquire development permits or building permits for the SkyTrain stations or guideway. However, City and RTPO staff agreed that peer review of the stations would be useful to the station architects, and the RTPO agreed to present the Rupert, Renfrew, Commercial and VCC Station designs to the Urban Design Panel and Development Permit Board for advice and comment.

Following these reviews, Council has since received for information the Rupert and Renfrew Stations designs and Station Precincts (February 1, 2000) and the Commercial Station design (July 25, 2000).

Further, on November 21, 2000 Council endorsed street changes on Commercial Drive and Broadway to accommodate pedestrian access and bus interface with the Commercial Station. A final report on the review of land use along Commercial Drive and the public realm plan will be submitted following completion of the public process in the area, expected in the Spring.

It was intended that the VCC Station follow the same review process. However, it was not possible for the RTPO to wait until after the labour disruption to submit a development application to take advantage of the usual comprehensive review by the relevant City departments. As well, it was not possible to take the station design to the Development Permit Board. Instead, the Deputy City Manager, Director of Current Planning and General Manager of Engineering Services reviewed the design and provided comment and advice on October 16, 2000. The City's Rapid Transit Office has since facilitated review by relevant departments, and will forward comments to the Rapid Transit Project Office as needed.


General Discussion of the Station

Appendix A (on file in the City Clerk's Office) shows the general arrangement of the VCC Station.

The station is a typical side platform, elevated station with a single entry at Keith Drive. It has been designed with a high degree of transparency that provides for security, visibility and access to daylight.

The VCC Station will be the terminus of the Millennium line until Phase 2 proceeds to a western terminus on the Broadway corridor. The station is located on the False Creek Flats north of Great Northern Way/6th Avenue and west of Clark Drive. It will serve Vancouver Community College, the surrounding single family and multi family residential community and emerging hi-tech industry. Initially, rider ship at this station will be light, but will increase as hi-tech develops, the Millennium line extends westward, and if VCC expands.

As with the other SkyTrain stations, the City wants to insure that it is well integrated with the surrounding area, and well connected to key destinations and the existing transit system. Achieving these connections to the east is challenging given the station's location at the base of the escarpment on the False Creek Flats and the steep grade change up to Clark Drive.

The Adjacent Residual Site

The RTPO has acquired the property on the north west corner of Clark and 6th Avenue (the Jessie's Moving site) for construction purposes. After construction, as with all land not required for the system, the RTPO intends to dispose of the residual property. The RTPO intends to work towards finding a new owner who will redevelop the site. The site is of particular interest to the City because it will be crucial in providing access to the Keith Drive entrance to the station or to a second station house at Clark Drive. As well, vehicle/parking access to the residual site will be from the station forecourt.

Appendix B contains a letter from the City to the RTPO regarding development of the residual site including ways to achieve a development that fulfills its important role relative to the station.

Urban Design Panel

A preliminary concept for the VCC Station was presented to the Urban Design Panel on July 26, 2000. The Panel's comments are based on the preliminary design. Subsequent design development has resulted in changes, particularly to the roof design. Key comments and advice included:

· Access between the station and the community east of Clark Drive is essential from a transportation perspective and to assist in integrating this community with the area west of Clark. Planning for a second station house (at the Clark Drive level) should be undertaken now;

·The station design is exemplary, contemporary, exciting, dynamic and elegant;

· The forecourt entrance to the station is an important component of the design and should portray a vibrant and animated public space; and

· The Panel prefers an at-grade crossing of Great Northern Way/6th Avenue at Keith Drive.

Senior City Staff Review (in lieu of the Development Permit Board)

It was not possible to defer the Development Permit Board meeting until after the labour disruption and still meet the station design schedule. Instead, on October 16, 2000, the Deputy City Manager, Director of Current Planning, General Manager of Engineering Services and all DP Board members reviewed and commented on the station design. The minutes of this meeting are attached as Appendix C. Senior staff advice can be summarized as follows:

1. The VCC Station should be designed and constructed to provide a pedestrian/disabled connection to the Clark Drive Bridge when the station and system open.

2. Urban Design Guidelines should be developed for the residual site before the property is sold. (See Appendix B, City letter to the RTPO on residual site development).

3.A grade separated pedestrian crossing of Great Northern Way is not necessary now but should be reviewed when VCC's redevelopment options and timing are known.

4. The design of the forecourt entrance to the station should be carried under the station to an "edge" on the north side.

5. Consider "strengthening" the public art component and landscaping to reinforce the existing visual connection along Keith Drive and consider extending it to the south side of Great Northern Way.

Public Consultation

In addition to City input into the design of the station, the RTPO met with the public on a number of occasions. A summary of these meetings is included in Appendix D. Early meetings were lightly attended because residents and interest groups were more focussed on issues regarding the location of the guideway in the Grandview Cut . Therefore, the public outreach approach was changed, and a number of `tent events' attracted greater participation. The Vancouver Community College was particularly interested in the station and provided valuable input.

In general, the level of public interest in the actual design of the station was similar to the Rupert and Renfrew stations where there was less interest in the actual design and more on the linkages between the station and the surrounding community. Nevertheless, comments on the station design reflected an appreciation for the transparency of the station, weather protection, natural light, potential for retail uses, and visibility amidst new development. Comments on linkages focussed on the topography and major streets in the area that could make access to the station difficult.


Staff are generally satisfied with the RTPO's directions on the VCC Station design, noting that substantial work remains to be done by the RTPO and the City on peripheral elements. The successful integration of this station with the surrounding area, the creation of effective pedestrian, disabled, and greenway connections, and integration of future development of the residual site depend on resolution of a number of important elements. The following items will be resolved with Council guidance or approval as required:

· Completion of the station forecourt design including:

· Resolution and details around redevelopment of the residual site including resolving how City objectives can be incorporated (the redevelopment of the site will go through the normal Development Permit Process) and resolution of pedestrian access between Clark Drive and the station (either through a second station house and/or through the redeveloped site) if the short term pedestrian access through the residual site is lost. Note that the Access Agreement requires that as part of the design and construction of the VCC Station, the RTPO is required to provide pedestrian and cyclist connections between the station and the Bikeway/Greenway and the Clark Drive Bridge.

· Completion of the Engineering components of the VCC Station Precinct Plan will ocurr early this year. Transportation and pedestrian components of the plan will include signal work, pedestrian crossings, street work and other site and transportation planning similar to that done for the Rupert, Renfrew and Commercial Station precincts. The planning components of the precinct plan will proceed later when there is greater clarity regarding issues such as rail relocation, residual site development, and the potential expansion of Vancouver Community College.

· Resolution of the Central Valley Trail greenway/bikeway connection between Clark Drive and the False Creek Flats.

· Financial guarantee by the RTPO for a future, potential overpass of Great Northern Way.

- - - - -



December 13, 2000

VIA FAX: 739-3087

Rapid Transit Project 2000 Ltd.
2010 - 1050 West Pender Street
Vancouver, B.C. V6E 3S7

Attention: Teresa Watts

Dear Ms. Watts & Mr. LeFlufy:

RE: VCC Station - Residual site at corner of 6th and Clark (Vancouver Sawmills site)

I refer to the parcel at the corner of 6th and Clark Drive (the "Sawmills" site), which Rapid Transit Project 2000 Ltd. (RTPO) has acquired for the VCC SkyTrain station. We understand that some portions of the site are not directly required for the station and related infrastructure. This letter concerns the balance of the site, the "residual site", for which we understand the RTPO intends to tender a Request For Proposals early in 2001.

This letter is intended to re-affirm the City's objectives and expectations and RTPO commitments regarding the design and development of the residual site. The residual site will play an important role in providing the connections necessary to make the VCC Station an integral and accessible part of both the SkyTrain transportation system and the neighbourhood.

As with all stations, the City is concerned that the station be well integrated to the surrounding neighbourhood, and well connected to key destinations and the existing transit system. These concerns are particularly acute at this site, given the steep grade change between Clark and the 6th Avenue station entry level. The City wants to ensure that as part of the station and related infrastructure, there are good pedestrian and cyclist connections to Clark Drive and the #22 bus; to VCC,to the greenway/bikeway and to the rapidly developing areas north of the station site.

Because the greenway/bikeway access and the configuration and alignment of relocated rails to the north of the station has not yet been finalized, there are some aspects of the role of the residual site that may be affected by the resolution of these issues.

Current Zoning

The current zoning of the Sawmills site is I-3, which allows high tech and other industrial uses. Under this zoning a development proposal could proceed as an `outright' application to a density of 3.0 fsr and a height of 18.3m. An outright application could be processed without review by COV Urban Design and Planning staff, the Development Permit Staff Committee, the Urban Design Panel, or the Development Permit Board, and would not involve public notification.

The City is concerned about ensuring that the development of the site proceeds in a manner that recognizes the unique characteristics of the site, and its role with respect to the VCC station.

Methods to secure City and RTPO objectives for the residual site

There are two possible methods to secure a development of the residual site that fulfills its important role with respect to the station.

1) Contractual Agreement registered on title for the property

In this option, commitment is required from the RTPO that any developer of this site would engage in the City's conditional development process, including consultation and review by City staff, Urban Design Panel, and the Development Permit Board. In this scenario, the RTPO would continue to play a role in ensuring that the objectives of the contractual agreement are met. The agreement on title would include principles, objectives and performance expectations with respect to the development of the site within the bounds of the existing I-3 zoning.
2) CD-1 Rezoning

As with the "triangle" site at Broadway and Commercial, ultimately a CD-1 site specific zoning may be appropriate for this residual site. A CD-1 zoned site would by definition undergo the City's conditional development review process and would of course include urban design principles and guidelines, and Council approval of the Form of Development. The City believes that a highly public use would best serve the SkyTrain station and the precinct in terms of expanding accessibility, potential ridership, and a 24 hour presence. Alternately, retaining the principle uses of the existing I-3 zoning but allowing for a higher retailcomponent would also assist to this end. Consideration could also be given to allowing a moderation of parking requirements given the immediate proximity of the site to the SkyTrain station.

The City of Vancouver needs a commitment from the RTPO with respect to which method would be preferred, so that the necessary steps to secure objectives for the residual site can be undertaken.

In either of the methods outlined above, the following characteristics of the residual site, and its relationship to the station and transit connections form the basis of our urban design objectives:

a) the proximity of the site to VCC station;

b) the challenges of the 15m drop in grade from Clark to the 6th Ave station entry level; and

c) outstanding issues of connectivity from Clark Drive to the 6th Ave station entry level and completion of the greenway connection to the level of the flats.

The role of the residual site will depend to a great extent on the final station design and the surrounding landscaping and forecourt design.

Urban Design Objectives - Connections to Clark Drive

As you are aware, City staff believe that the station should be designed to provide pedestrian and disabled access to Clark Drive Bridge in the current construction phase, either through a second station house, or via a centralized circulation system (so that patrons coming from the neighbourhood or from Clark Drive or the #22 bus do not have to descend an 11% grade to the proposed 6th Avenue forecourt, only to take an escalator up to the platform).

Although the station has been designed to physically accommodate a `second station house' providing direct access from Clark Drive, it is our understanding that this second access will not be constructed as part of Phase I.

Given this, the development of the residual site should provide for:

· highly public, visible and convenient access for pedestrians and disabled persons from Clark Drive to the Keith Road station entrance

· the potential for a future highly public, visible, and convenient access for pedestrians and disabled persons to a potential second station house entry at the level of Clark Drive

· depending on the resolution of the greenways access to the level of the Flats, a greenways route via the site, or allowance for exterior access to a greenways ramping system along the northern edge of the residual site.

If the RFP does not result in an interested purchaser for the site in advance of station completion, a commitment is required that the RTPO will take the necessary steps to ensure that access for pedestrians and the disabled from Clark to the 6th Avenue entry is provided via paths and landscape development on the residual site. This interim access arrangement is to be designed in consultation with City Staff, and is to be in place when the VCC Station opens.

Urban Design Objectives - General Considerations

The following outline urban design objectives based on the relationship and proximity of the site to the station, and the challenging characteristics of the site:

· building massing and interface with the VCC station: views to and from the station, and visibility of the station from Great Northern Way and Clark Drive

· consideration of city and mountain views northwest from the raised vantage point of Clark as it approaches 6th Ave and from the neighbourhood to the south east

· recognition of prominent and unique characteristics of the site - a highly visible corner of GNW and Clark Drive, with challenging topography

· active, publicly accessible uses to ensure "eyes on the street" along routes to the station entry points, and particularly on the station forecourt and on Clark Drive

· weather protection for pedestrians along these routes

· a widened setback along the 6th Ave frontage, including street trees, a sidewalk and landscaped step and ramping system to facilitate pedestrian movement up and down the slope

· a public open space and tree planting at the corner of 6th Ave and Clark

· relationship to the station forecourt: public uses fronting on and opening out to the public pedestrian space of the forecourt

· traffic: circulation and parking access considerations to ensure the development of the residual site does not adversely affect the functioning of the station forecourt and its access.

We believe the development of the residual site will play a crucial role in the effective functioning of the VCC Station and we look forward to working with you toward achieving our mutual objectives for this very important site. Please let us know at your earliest convenience what your preference would be with respect to the two alternative methods for dealing with the residual site, so that we may proceed together to secure its future potential.

Yours truly,

Patricia St. Michel
Phone: 604.873-7237


cc: Larry Beasley, Director of Current Planning, City of Vancouver


November 3, 2000

Minutes of a meeting held on October 16, 2000 at Architectura to review the design of the Vancouver Community College Station.

City Attendees:

Brent MacGregor
Dave Rudberg
Larry Beasley
Jane Bird
Wayne Pledger
Pat Wotherspoon

Attending for the RTPO and the Architects:

Tom Motomochi
Edward LeFlufy
Walter Francl
Peter Buchanan
Others to be inserted

The Purpose of the meeting was to provide City advice to the RTPO and their architects on the design of the Vancouver Community College Station, forecourt to the station, the adjacent residual site (Jessie's) and transportation connections to the station.

This meeting replaces the Development Permit Board meeting that would normally have provided advice on this matter but was deferred given the existing labour disruption. Any further delay in providing City advice would have not allowed the architect sufficent time to incorporate this advice into the existing design given the design schedule requirements.

Jane Bird (JB) outlined the key City issues:

1. The station is located in the SE quadrant of the False Creek flats, an area recently rezoned as "high tech" I3. The specific site is close to the Finning redevelopment site and the (already under development) QLT Site. The station is also located across the street from the Vancouver Community College, a major educational land use that is also considering redevelopment plans.

2 The land to the east and south of the station is higher in elevation than the existing station entrance. Clark Drive to the east is a major arterial with a major bus route. Connections between the existing station entrance and Clark are problematic for pedestrians, especially the disabled, given the elevation difference. A second station entrance to Clark is seen as an important element of the station for local pedestrians, transit users and the disabled east of Clark.

JB further indicated some concerns City staff had with uncertainty over what was in budget Scope and that if some of the connection elements such as a second station entrance were not included then the residual site (either as an undeveloped site or upon redevelopment) becomes critical in achieving these connections.

Edward LeFlufy noted that title to the residual site has not yet transferred to the RTPO, that the budget estimate for the station is $5.7 million without a second station entrance and that the following schedule will meet a station opening in the second half of 2002, approximately 3 months after Commercial Station opens:

25% design completion: October 20, 2000
65% design completion: December 2000
95% design completion: February 2000
100% design completionf: March 2000

Peter Buchanan and Walter Francl discussed the context for, and design of the Station. The following points were made:

1 Prior to the construction of the Grandview Cut, the station site used to be a beach. Various elements of the station including the roof and station entrance have been developed to create a billowy lite architecture evoking a wind feeling with these elements being held down rather than supported.

2. The station has a somewhat asymmetrical design with the 2 sides different evoking the image of a sail boat with a leeward and windward.

3. The views along Keith Drive towards the entrance to the Station are, or will be somewhat limited, given that Keith is a well treed street south of 6th/Great Northern Way and that the Jessie's site on the east side of Keith and the Rogers' site on the west side of Keith will frame the station significantly.

4. The views from the north (from Clark Drive and from SkyTrain) will be the most dramatic.

5. Lighting of the Station will be indirect from below with task lighting to important elements of the station and will be a "welcoming beacon".

6. CEPTED issues have been addressed by keeping the station very open and transparent.

7. Public art is intended to be a procession of overhead lanterns along the western edge of the forecourt from 6th Ave to the vicinity of the station entrance with features at the base of the lanterns evoking the original False Creek shoreline.

8. The roof will collect rain water and direct it to a sculptural element near the station entrance.

9. The forecourt area is intended to be open and will connect under the station (emergency vehicle access allowed under the western end of the station).

10. There is provision for an overhead walkway across 6th Ave to the Vancouver Community College but is not being provided for at this time. An at-grade signalized crossing of 6th is the preferred option (which would have to provided in any event) with a median proposed for 6th Ave, similar with what is being proposed for Great Northern Way to the east, adjacent to the Finning Site.

11. Walter Francl discussed the various options for a second station house connection to Clark including a direct connection between Clark and the Station and connections integrated into the residual site.


Dave Rudberg (DHR) was concerned with the large number of pedestrians who would be crossing 6th Ave/Grandview Highway North to reach the station and asked whether there was money in the budget for an overpass.

Edward LeFlufy (EF) indicated there was money for an overpass. However, the conclusions, following meetings with the public and VCC are:

1 Notwithstanding the potential for a grade separated faciltiy, it will still be necessary to provide a workable at-grade crossing.

2 VCC is reviewing its development options. It would seem prudent to defer a decision on an overpass until more is known of their development options as it may be better to put an overpass in a different place to what has been identified and/or integrate such a facility into either the residual site, the Rogers site and/or a redeveloped VCC.

The advice of the City is to wait until development options at VCC are better known until a decision on a pedestrian overpass is made.

Jane Bird (JB) raised the issue of the Clark connection and refered to the Amenity Package (Section of the amenity package says that the VCC Station will be designed and constructed to include pedestrian and cyclist connections to the Bikeway/Greenway and the Clark Drive Bridge) and asked the architect to comment on this connection without the residual site.

A very significant portion of the remainder of the meeting discussed this issue.

EL begins by noting that the issue raised by JB raises the question of the second station entrance. The RTPO has concluded from an understanding of existing stations with "secondary entrances" (eg Joyce) that if a second station entrance is provided, it should provide the same level of service as the "first" station entrance (eg escalators, elevators, same number of ticket machines, etc).

EL explained that the RTPO proposes that the residual site would be used as the route between Clark Drive and False Creek. Options that exist include:

1 In the absence of redevelopment of the residual site, a switchback-type path could be created.
2 Integration of a way between Clark and the station entrance at Keith through or as part of the redevelopment.
3 Integration of a way between Clark and a second station entrance (at the Clark Drive elevation) through or as part of the redevelopment.

In the absence of the above, a direct connection between Clark Bridge and a second station entrance continues to exist.

It was unclear whether the Options 2 or 3 above would be an RTPO condition of the redevelopment site.

Brent MacGregor (BDM) and Larry Beasley (LBB) asked how the disabled would get between Clark Drive and the station entrance in the absence of a residual site redevelopment.

EL indicated this has not yet been decided but that there is an obligation by the RTPO to provide a means for this to ocurr. Options could include a ramp on the residual site and, upon redevelopment, through the new development.

DHR asked about the Greenway/Bikeway connection. JB reiterated the RTPO obligation under the Amenity Package to design and constructsomething. Further, this has, not surprisingly, become a significant design challenge, but that it does not bear on the issue of the Station design.

LB observed that it may be necessary to solve as an interim solution, the grade problem a first time with the money available and then a second time more permanently. LB also asked why not design the station in a manner that all vertical circulation (between the "first" station entrance, the platforms, and a "second" station entrance) were in a vertical line in the central portion of the station.

EL reiterated that in the absence of the redevelopment of the residual site, a ramping system would be provided on the site.

BDM recommended that the Station should be designed to provide pedestrian and disabled access to Clark Drive Bridge.

LBB recommended that Urban Design Guidelines should be developed for the residual site before the RTPO sells the property.

LBB made the following points:

1 The forecourt landscaping and public art proposal be strengthened to reinforce the visual connection of Great Northern Way to the Station along Keith Drive.

2 The Public Art proposal is weak. Could get lost. He likes the spirit but it almost needs to be taken across Great Northern Way to work.

3 The at-grade design concept should be carried under the Station to the northside of the Staiton and provide a definite terminating "edge" on the north side.

4 The vocabularly of the Station is quite interesting and in line with the other hi tech development proposals he has seen but wondered whether the design should be modified to provide a central vertical circulation point.

BDM asked whether there is sufficient student demand to warrant a pedestrian overpass of Great Northern Way. EL said not today but with future development.


The VCC Station should be designed and constructed to provide a pedestrian/disabled connection to Clark Drive Bridge when the station and system open. The existing location for the second station entrance works but the RTPO may wish to consider a more central set of integrated vertical circulation elements.

Urban Design Guidelines should be developed for the residual site before the property is sold.

A grade separated pedestrian crossing of Great Northern Way should be reconsidered when redevelopment options and timing of VCC is better known.

Carry the design of the forecourt under the Station to an "edge" on the north side of the Station.

Consider "strengthening" the public art component and landscaping to reinforce the existing visual connection along Keith Drive and consider extending it to the south side of Great Northern Way.


Summary of Public Consultation Events for VCC Station

Public Consultation Events Specific to VCC Station

Date, Location, Time

Event Description

Number of public attendees

April 26, 2000

Announcement of alignment west of Commercial Drive to VCC - Lecia Stewart, Bob Laurie (Finning), Mayor Owen, Dale Dorn (VCC), Graeme Bowbrick (Minister Responsible for Transit)


May 16, 2000

City-wide open house.


June 13, 2000

Workshop on aspirations of the Community for the Grandview Cut.


June 15, 2000

Workshop on community aspirations for the VCC station area.


July 11, 2000

Workshop follow-up on planning and design of VCC station.


September 12 & 21, 2000
Tent Events at VCC

Information tent. Displays on VCC station design, precinct plan, greenways/bikeways.


Stakeholder Meetings Specific to VCC Station

Date, Location, Time

Event Description

May 2, 2000

Information meeting - by invitation.
Mt. Pleasant, CECONA, Broadway/
Commercial working group

May 4, 2000

Information meeting - by mail drop invitation to adjacent Commwest residents

May 31, 2000
Trout Lake Comm. Center

Community stakeholder meeting with Cedar Cottage Coalition

June 9 and July 14, 2000
Jenny Kwan Office

Briefing meetings

June 15, 2000

Stakeholder meeting with VCC Go-Green Committee.

June 15, 2000

Stakeholder meeting with VCC Visually Impaired Adults Class.

June - August, 2000

Eight small "kitchen table" meetings upon invitation.

June 27, 2000
Grandview/?uuquinak'uuh School

Stakeholder meeting with staff, parents, others.

August 3, 2000

Stakeholder meeting with Finning, BNSF real estate, QLT, re: development potential of sites around VCC station.

September 19, 2000
RTO boardroom

Stakeholder meeting with VCC re: VCC expansion plans

September 26, 2000

Stakeholder meeting with Visually Impaired Adults Class

September 27, 2000

Stakeholder meeting with VCC Go-Green Committee

October 12, 2000
IWA Hall

Stakeholder meeting with CECONA

November 14, 2000

Stakeholder meeting with VCC Operations Council

November 21, 2000
Finning Presentation Centre

Stakeholder meeting with commercial stakeholders on Clark Drive and around VCC station

Other Public Consultation Events in Commwest

Date, Location, Time

Event Description

Number of public attendees

September 26, 2000
Grandview/?uuqinak'uuh School

Traffic Calming and Greenways/Bikeways Ideas Plan Development Open House. Presentation of preliminary traffic calming ideas for Grandview Highway North (Clark to Commercial) and overview of Greenways.


November 30, 2000
Queen Alexandra School

Ideas Forum for Greening of Commwest


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