St. Paul’s Hospital’s proposed relocation to False Creek Flats, and 5-metre sea-level rise

A False Creek in 1893 and today, www-afalsecreek-ca

CAPTION: Map showing extent of water to Clark Street in 1893 (larges area, with dark blue dots), today (solid turquoise), and the Sierra Club’s image in the event of a 5-metre rise in sea levels (darkest). It looks like the future St. Paul’s Hospital could be surrounded by water. Will the hospital budget have to include ambulance boats? Image credit:

Intro: It was recently announced that the authorities are considering relocating St. Paul’s Hospital from downtown location on Burrard Street to a new spot on the False Creek Flats. Meanwhile, thousands of people passing under the Cambie Street Bridge every day on foot, on wheels, or on the water, may notice the white and blue shaded bands on the pillars of the bridge. Nearby, a small sign explains, but how many people actually read it? Here below is what it’s all about, plus some additional photos, links, and food for thought.


A False Creek
An Artwork commissioned by the City of Vancouver starting June 2012
Artists: Rhonda Weppler and Trevor Mahovsky
Project website:

Excerpts from “A False Creek” art project website: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projects sea levels rising between four and six metres as a result of the partial melting of the earth’s major ice sheets. In 2006, the BC Chapter of the Sierra Club of Canada created a a plug-in for Google Earth, simulating the effect of a six metre sea level rise on Vancouver. False Creek, which once extended as far as Clark Drive before massive infill projects altered its shape, is a site that provides an opportunity to reflect on the past, present and future of Vancouver’s highly managed shoreline.

Images below all credit to “A False Creek” project. They show where the water would be with five meters of sea level rise.

Afalsecreek-ca credit image (3) Afalsecreek-ca credit image (4) Afalsecreek-ca credit image (5) Afalsecreek-ca credit image (1) Afalsecreek-ca credit image (2)

Continuing from website: A False Creek [the art project] marks the midpoint of these sea rise estimates (five metres), with painted chromatic blue stripes on the pilings of the Cambie Bridge, and on the lampposts near Cooper’s Park. This abstract pattern of stripes inevitably produces a decorative effect, one with an ambiguous relation to the pattern’s function as a marker and visualization tool. The work points to the potential and problems of such tools. The scale of the engineering of False Creek and the Cambie bridge, along with the scale of potential future environmental change are made visually and physically palpable, yet the experience takes on an aesthetic related to philosophical concepts of the sublime.

The work of Rhonda Weppler and Trevor Mahovsky has long been concerned with colour coding and the graphic logic of signage…. read more here





  • False Creek Watershed Society:
  • Full-Rip 9.0: The Next Big Earthquake in the Pacific Northwest (by Sandi Doughton, Sasquatch Books, 2013). Excerpt from page 199:

During the Nisqually earthquake, geysers of wet sand sprouted nearby as particles in the already-loose fill rattled apart and water gushed out. Soil turned to thick slurry. Engineers have known for more than a century that reclaimed swamps are among the most dangerous places to build in earthquake-prone territory. Not only is the ground susceptible to liquefaction, but it also shakes harder and longer than most solid soils


Metro Vancouver is the most at-risk urban area in Canada when it comes to the effects of climate change, says the Coastal Cities at Risk project.

“In an OECD report, (Metro) Vancouver is rated 15th for exposed assets, with $55 billion at risk, and 32nd in terms of population at risk, with 320,000 people exposed,” the Vancouver Sunquotes Cities at Risk as saying.

In its latest release, Cities at Risk points out there are approximately 220,000 people who live at or below sea level in the region – protected by 127 kilometres of dikes which were not built to withstand the expected sea level rise.

The Vancouver Sun notes that the provincial government set new guidelines last year for sea dikes and land use in coastal flood-hazard zones as part of the effort to manage an expected sea level rise of 1.2 metres in the next 100 years.

For the City of Vancouver, this meant adopting a plan that calls for all new construction that could be subject to flooding to be built up an additional metre, to 4.5 metres above sea level.

“We did that immediately with the West Fraser Lands development River District,” Sadhu Johnston, Vancouver’s deputy city manager, told the Sun. “They basically raised the entire development one metre without it causing any problems. They built the sidewalks and the streets higher as well,” he said.

Still, rising sea levels are certainly on peoples’ minds in and around Metro Vancouver. Vancouver residents may have noticed the painted blue stripes on the bottom of the Cambie Bridge, part of a city-commission art project, “A False Creek,” intended draw attention to the effects of climate change in the region.


Site of Future St. Paul's Hospital on False Creek Flats

Site of Future St. Paul’s Hospital on False Creek Flats

View south, office buildings on Terminal Avenue

View south, office buildings on Terminal Avenue

False Creek Flats

Site of Future St. Paul's Hospital on False Creek Flats

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