Granville Island elevator
A concept drawing showing a proposed elevator and staircase that would allow pedestrians to access the island from a pedestrian walkway down the centre of the bridge. A lookout tower is also proposed.

A final report outlining an ambitious vision for the future of Granville Island contains some interesting proposals, including a pedestrian elevator to the Granville Street Bridge and an expanded public market.

The report was commissioned by the CMHC (Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation) to guide the next 25 years of development on the island.

It identifies four major strategies: improving access; expanding the public market and creating a market district; embracing arts and innovation and restoring and sustaining the public realm.

Improving access

  • Build elevator from Granville Street Bridge to heart of Granville Island
  • Build new bridge across Alder Bay, connecting pedestrian and bike paths to Island
  • Increase ferry, transit, pedestrian and cycle access
  • Reduce dominance of private vehicle traffic and parking
Granville Island expanded Public Market
A concept drawing showing an expanded public market on Granville Island.

Expand the Public Market and create a Market District

  • Expand and integrate Public Market with a new Market District
  • Showcase sustainable, local food production and processing
  • Expand independent businesses in non-food sector specializing in local design and manufacturing

Embrace arts and Innovation

  • Create arts and innovation hub to link art, design and technology
  • Build flexible performance space to showcase multimedia art and performance
  • Explore establishing First Nations’ cultural centre
Granville Island pedestrian elevator
A concept drawing of a new central plaza, with access to the pedestrian elevator.

Restore and sustain public realm

  • Create a central plaza at the heart of the Island
  • Naturalize south shore of Alder Bay
  • Promote environmental and urban sustainability

The proposed Granville Street Bridge Elevator is one of the most dramatic aspects of the vision.

Granville Island elevator
A concept drawing showing a proposed elevator and staircase that would allow pedestrians to access the island from a pedestrian walkway down the centre of the bridge. A lookout tower is also proposed.

Currently, the island is poorly served by transit, with just one bus route serving Granville Island. However, the Granville Street Bridge has a high frequency of bus service, with a city bus passing by every two minutes. The elevator would connect the island with this robust transit service across the bridge.

The bus stop on the bridge would be part of a future elevated cyclist and pedestrian greenway already proposed by the city as part of the Vancouver House condo project, which is currently under construction.

The report envisions the elevator and viewing platform as a tourist attraction.

“The elevator is conceived as a Vancouver icon – linking a rebuilt ground level public space with a future bus stop and greenway on the bridge above. Design concepts could also include a tower feature that would offer a spectacular viewing platform above the bridge. This additional attraction would draw new visitors to the city and Granville Island,” reads the report.

Granville Island cycling bridge
Concept drawing showing a new pedestrian cycle bridge across Alder Bay.
Granville Island multipurpose performance space
Concept drawing showing a new multipurpose performance space.

Vehicle traffic and parking, which occupies over a quarter of current land use, is singled out as a major issue facing Granville Island.

“These pressures threaten the freedom of movement across the entire public realm and the pedestrian-friendly character of the Island, and risk the further erosion of public space.”

Other ideas proposed in the report include appointing a “Nightlife Mayor” to encourage activity on the island beyond daylight hours, as well as the creation of a new Central Plaza area at the entrance of the island, with a landing area for the proposed pedestrian elevator.