Does anyone have any idea of what’s going on here?

There used to be a gas station on the NW corner of Davie and Burrard.  I remember when they tore the building down and scooped out all of the contaminated soil (gasoline had leaked from the underground storage tanks – it happens often):

Given the high price tag that likely accompanied this sweet piece of real estate (never mind the clean-up), I could only assume something would be built here soon.  Nine months would go by, and the lot would remain empty with nothing but a yellow metal fence enclosing it.  However, a week or so ago, something seemed to go up overnight – what could it be?

This looks suspiciously like a community garden.  After a quick browse about google, I couldn’t find anything that might answer my question.  Interestingly, I saw something similar next to the Granville Street Bridge (red circle):

I asked a friend that works for the city about this, but she had no idea what was going on.  Can a Terry* reader confirm my suspicions?

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Dave Semeniuk spends hours locked up in his office, thinking about the role the oceans play in controlling global climate, and unique ways of studying it. He'd also like to shamelessly plug his art practice: davidsemeniuk.com

5 Responses to “Does anyone have any idea of what’s going on here?”

  1. chris o

    Hey Dave,
    I’m pretty sure that any old gas station site needs to lay fallow for 2 years or so to allow for the gasoline in the soil to seep deep enough so as not to affect future construction projects. You see this all over the city – I can think of 4th and Macdonald off the top of my head; and there’s a building going up on the south-east corner of 4th and Alma after a number of years of disuse. I feel like I also heard of a condo dig in yaletown that ran into some environmental inspection trouble this spring when they found that they had dug below where the gas had seeped.
    Anyway, I also noticed the apparent new community garden at Burrard and Davie (not Pacific) and as far as I can see, the only information they have posted is the name of the landscaping company doing the work.

  2. Dave Semeniuk

    Thanks for the info Chris. If I remember correctly, the station had been closed down and out of service for at least a year before they tore everything down and dug out the soil (perhaps it had been in fallow long enough?).

    If it is a community garden (read: vegetable garden), great! However, there seems to be a lot of wasted space taken up by the paths – maybe the city bought the land and is converting it into a floral garden.

  3. Timon

    The same deal is going on at 16th and Oak Street. The lot on the SW corner has been empty for several years – I believe it was a leave-fallow-following-gas station scenario as well. When I returned from Boston this summer, I noticed that there were a handful of boxes in place where people were growing… whatever they were interested in, I suppose. The whole thing was fenced in (I believe behind lock and key actually) and there was an email address provided if you were interested in getting involved (just found this a moment ago). I’ve been meaning to learn more. Maybe this is a city-wide endeavour? One thing I was wondering was whether the soil in the boxes was even interacting with the soil underneath (possibly a ridiculous question, but have a heart – I ain’t feeling that great).

  4. Dave S

    Alright, I have some insider info from someone at the city. Apparently, the lots are community gardens that were put in by a developer and the VPSN (Vancouver Public Space Network). Info about the garden at Pacific and Seymour can be found here (apparently, there is already a wait list for the space).

  5. crf

    The wide paths are probably so that they are wheelchair accessible.

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