A Tale of Two Vancouvers

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North Vancouver District Hall
North Vancouver District Hall

I went to the District of North Vancouver offices to pick up some money owed and was promptly redirected to the City of North Vancouver offices five minutes down the road. It made me wonder yet again why we are running two completely separate bureaucracies for a relatively small population. It also made me think about Warnett Kennedy’s plan to turn North Vancouver into a second downtown Vancouver.

North Vancouver City Hall
North Vancouver City Hall

A couple of months back I wrote about Kennedy’s planned third crossing for Burrard Inlet which was debated and promptly tossed out back in the early 1970s. In the same book Kennedy, who is described as an architect, town planner and City of Vancouver Alderman, outlines his ambitious plans for a crossing that would include rapid transit to the North Shore. He also argues for a Twin City.

“The Twin City Concept combined with a Third Crossing would be enormously useful,” he writes. “Hopefully a time will come when we talk of “Vancouver One” and “Vancouver two.”

His idea was to take development pressure off the Fraser Valley, and presumably move it onto the North Shore.

From a 1974 book called Vancouver Tomorrow: A search for Greatness
From a 1974 book called Vancouver Tomorrow: A search for Greatness

In this vision of two downtown Vancouvers—one which looks like it would be at the bottom of Pemberton in North Vancouver—Kennedy wrote that Burrard Inlet would be seen as “a lake in the centre of this future regional city.”

“I have often been asked to explain the reasons for my proposal first published in 1972 for a twin downtown Vancouver. Although it appears somewhat startling, the logic of the idea is essentially simple,” he says. “If a rapid transit link were to exist today it would take only four minutes running time to travel from Vancouver’s Central Business District to a Central Business District on the North Shore.

West Vancouver Municipal Hall
West Vancouver Municipal Hall

“It would be as though Vancouver had reached out and pulled the North Shore almost alongside its downtown. The water of the harbour, in imagination and for all practical purposes, is narrowed to a river’s width.”

I’ve lived in North Vancouver for a couple of decades now and I found his argument for the twin city less than compelling.

The chapter ends on the optimistic note that all that was needed to get this plan off the paper was that North Vancouver City, and the District of North Vancouver and West Vancouver would amalgamate with their “mother city” Vancouver.

Good luck with that.

Vancouver City Hall
Vancouver City Hall

 

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3 comments

  1. Eve!…. . I am old enough to remember the late Architect Warnett Kennedy……a staunch conservative member of the NPA back in the ’60s and 70’s……Few people on the North Shore would have agreed with his densifying the trees and relatively quiet area, and turning it into ” Vancoyver,2″…lol

  2. Interesting post Eve. I think we’ve discussed Mr. Kennedy’s record as a “visionary” in previous exchanges. As for the duplication of civic governments per Vancouver and the North Shore, on the bright side, your post shows we have 4 city/municipal halls of compelling modernist design!

  3. Worn-out Kennedy, as Harry Rankin used to call him, was a strange combination of wild-eyed visionary and arch-conservative, as Rob Cardinal notes. In about Grade 9, I interviewed him about becoming an architect for a school project – we were all supposed to research what our future career might be like. Then I remember him at City Council in the early 1970s, one of the phalanx of stern NPA aldermen who were totally pro-development. His book is neat, though, very much of its time, and he wrote another, even more of a tract, entitled Vancouver: Fight for it or Lose It! in 1982. I put a brief bio and photo of him in my 2012 Vanishing Vancouver, p. 151.

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