Now that Vancouver City Council has rejected the proposal to expand the Edgewater casino as part of a larger entertainment complex attached to BC Place stadium, the question remains: What to do with the land?
Let’s face it, the banana-shaped lot wedged between Expo Boulevard and a Cambie bridge off-ramp has roughly the same aesthetic appeal of Freedomtown in Scarface.
But the city has a track record of taking awkward, unsightly and even toxic parcels of land and turning them into great things. The Olympic Village site, for instance.
And it is, if nothing else, a prominent downtown location, already serviced by bike routes.
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson says making the site a success is going to require some creative thinking.
They don’t pay me to do this, but here goes.
Proposal #1: Combined Food-Cart Fair/Protest Venue.
This solves a number of problems the city is facing. The unqualified success of the city’s expanded food cart program means the number of carts is limited only by the number of locations available on city streets. Also, the distance between food carts can make comparison shopping difficult.
This site, roughly 8,000 square metres in area, could accommodate many more vendors of such things as fish tacos, baked potatoes and crepes. The carts could be placed in close proximity to each other, allowing diners to easily compare price, nutritional value and ethical consequences of each menu item.
The size of the site would also allow room for citizens groups who wish to air their grievances publicly in the form of demonstrations, protest huts, tents and signage.
The combination of these two uses could introduce some interesting and unexpected synergies to the equation.
Individuals and groups demonstrate for many reasons. Perhaps they are unhappy with a corrupt or oppressive regime in their home country. Perhaps they are marking the anniversary of a revolution. Perhaps they want to make public their displeasure over a piece of federal or provincial legislation.
Whatever the reason for protesting, everyone’s got to eat.
I frequently drive past the Falun Gong demonstrators who have continued their vigil outside the Chinese Consulate despite their protest hut being dismantled. They look like they could use some pulled pork.
Revenues would be derived from food-cart licence fees and protest fees.
Proposal #2: The Vancouver Museum of Real Estate.
This facility will be the first of its kind in Canada, and showcase the history of Vancouver Real Estate over the past century. Total floor space would be 7,600 square metres over six floors (roughly twice the size of the Vancouver Art Gallery), not including a green roof feature.
Visitors will pass under a 30-metre tall bronze sculpture of Bob Rennie, as imagined by Douglas Coupland, as they enter the complex.
Permanent installations will reflect the past century of realty in Vancouver such as “Hong-couver” and “The Leaky Condo Wing.”
The museum will also include unique interactive displays for all ages such as “Fluff my Tiny Condo,” computerized Bidding-War Games, and a “Burst the Bubble Room.”
Rare individual artifacts will also be displayed such as a unique “Price Reduced” sign, circa 2008, and a combined home inspection report and statement of disclosure that accurately reflects the actual condition of a property.
Proposal #3: Robson Square – Live!
When Premier Gordon Campbell announced the deal between Paragon Development and PavCo to build the hotel and casino complex he said, “During the Winter Olympic Games the streets of Vancouver were alive with the Olympic Spirit – and we hope this entertainment complex will help recapture some of that excitement.”
Imagine Robson Square frozen in time at the height of its Olympic Glory.
Constructed from the original Arthur Erickson plans, this development will be an exact physical reproduction of Robson Square in the winter of 2010, including the covered skating rink, performance stages and a zip line.
Daily programming will include live music and skating performances by Olympic mascots Quatchi, Miga, Sumi and that other one.
A variety of buskers and street entertainers will also be on hand to help recreate the magic of the Olympics on a daily basis.
Such a development would also provide an opportunity for Vancouverites to wear without embarrassment all of that Team Canada gear they purchased after lining up for four hours.
As well, there will be street food.
Unlike the actual Robson Square, the site will not be demolished 15 minutes after the last Olympic visitor departs.
Stephen Quinn is the host of On the Coast on CBC Radio One, 690 AM and 88.1 FM in Vancouver. firstname.lastname@example.org