Homeless in Vancouver: What everyone was craning to see Sunday on West Broadway

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      "It’s a crane?” a somewhat wide-eyed pedestrian asked me uncertainly.

      It was Sunday (October 6), just before noon. We were both waiting to cross West Broadway at Fir Street. I was on the roadway riding my bicycle.

      Of the two of us, I was the one deliberately heading west toward what I had been able to see was some kind of tall derrick, all the back to Birch Street, six blocks east.

      It was so tall that everyone for many blocks in all directions had to be able to able to see it.

      Some, like the pedestrian, were probably unable not to see it, if you know what I mean.

      What everyone was craning to see in the 1700 block of West Broadway on Sunday.
      Stanley Q. Woodvine

      The unexpected fact of its tallness was accentuated by its unusual location. It rose straight up from the middle of the roadway of the 1700 block of West Broadway, where one does not normally expect to see a tall derrick crane—if it was a crane.

      I admit that the unexpected sight stirred a touch of foreboding in me, mixed with anticipation, like an unwished-for-but-dreaded fruition of perilous times.

      It could’ve been a portable rocket launcher for all I knew, but my suspicion was that it had something to do with the impending construction of the Broadway subway, scheduled to begin in 2020—mere months away.

      In part this was because, at first glance, it bore a strong resemblance to the (admittedly much smaller) portable  drilling rigs used in the past few years to take soil samples along the proposed route of the subway line.

      The pop-up Broadway Subway Community Office in the 1200 block of West Broadway.
      Stanley Q. Woodvine

      And no doubt my first assumption was further biased by the sudden appearance, on Friday, of a Broadway Subway Community Office at 1216 West Broadway, the former long-time headquarters of the B.C. Heart and Stroke Foundation.

      However, what Fairview residents saw rising above West Broadway on Sunday had nothing to do with anything as dramatically boring as the beginning of subway construction.

      It really was just a crane—a really big crane to be sure but an ordinary crane nonetheless. It was only there to exchange HVAC components on the roof of a building on the north side of the 1700 block.

      But boy, it was a big crane!