Community wants St. George Street creek revitalized
It’s trapped in a culvert and buried beneath a quiet street. The creek that once flowed freely from its headwaters, in what is now Robson Park on Kingsway, to False Creek Flats disappeared long ago in the wake of urbanization.
As Vancouver residents re-imagine their city, which is increasingly being claimed by glass, steel, and concrete, the stream may kiss the sky again.
The proposed restoration of the creek under St. George Street was the focus of an “Earth Walk” on August 18. Led by local resident and naturalist Greta Borick Cunningham, the activity was a good example of grassroots engagement to create community spaces.
The stroll started a block north of Kingsway at East 13th Avenue, and proceeded down St. George to East 5th Avenue. The distance was roughly the length of the urban stream and greenway that the False Creek Watershed Society, chaired by Cunningham, is proposing.
“Little segments could be transformed over time,” Cunningham told the Straight during the walk.
Before the hike got under way, Mount Pleasant Family Centre staff member Flora Purcell displayed an artist’s rendition of how a daylighted stream and greenway may look. The sketch shows pedestrians and motorists sharing a calm street with a restored creek running at its edge.
“Rather than just having so much asphalt, maybe we can have a little more water, green, and lifeforms to add to the community,” Purcell told the Straight.
At East 7th Avenue, Cunningham drew attention to a street mural celebrating the not-forgotten creek. The art work features words in various languages, reflecting the city’s multicultural makeup. One of these was tubig, Tagalog for “water”.
At the intersection with East 6th Avenue, she asked participants to come near a covered manhole. Immediately, the gurgling sound of a stream whooshing below St. George Street could be heard distinctly.
The walk was one in a series organized by Little Mountain Neighbourhood House, Village Vancouver, and the False Creek Watershed Society for this summer and fall. See the group's website for details.