[This fragment is available in an audio version.]
I want to share a project I’ve been helping out with for the last couple of years; the False Creek Friends Society. I haven’t wanted to write about it before now because it was just big-ideas talk. But there’s some science starting up and if you’re nearby you might want to get involved.
What’s a “False Creek”? · Wikipedia has the facts. It’s a little piece of the Pacific stabbing into the belly of Vancouver, surrounded by condos, marinas, a cement maker, museums, festivals, Granville Island, and a really nice seawall. I’m writing this in our family boat, my home office several days a week, tied up at one of those marinas. I bicycle on the seawall. It’s a unique, special place and I care a lot about it.
Problems · I feel a pretty deep connection with False Creek and can’t help noticing a few real problems:
The quality of the water; there are regular no-swim notices from the Health people. There also may be industrial-chemical pollutants left from when it was surrounded by sawmills and factories. But, we don’t actually know much about the nature of the problems. The science just hasn’t been done.
False Creek contains several locations that were central to the lives of the peoples of the Squamish, Musqueam, and Tsleil-Waututh nations that our ancestors stole the territory from. But there are few manifestations of Indigenous culture to be seen.
It’s not a place, it’s a hole in the map with lots of interesting stuff around it.
What are Friends for? · I was contacted in late 2020 by Zaida Schneider, retired journalist and mariner, who mostly lives in his lovely tugboat at another of the marinas, and like me cares about the place. Since then, we’ve talked to a whole lot of people and registered a nonprofit and assembled a seven-strong Board of Directors (I’m one) and launched collaborations. What, exactly, are we trying to achieve?
Well, we have a tactical To-Do List. I strongly suggest that if you are in the neighborhood, you read it. But, we have bigger ideas.
Those Marine Parks are just fabulous, lovely places, but they’re (by design) a long way from where everybody is and to enjoy them, you have to be well-off enough to access a boat.
Why shouldn’t Canada have a National Urban Marine Park, and why shouldn’t it be False Creek, where a half-million people can walk to it and it’s an easy trip for another 2½ million?
Canada has Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas, which tend to be remote and fairly unspoiled. You’ll never unspoil False Creek, but we could protect it from further damage and heal it where it’s diseased, and prove that a city can live in better harmony with the earth that upholds it and the water that surrounds it. Vancouver has a large Indigenous population; why shouldn’t they lead the protection and conservation?
I would totally love for this to be a hot-spot for Indigenous culture and employment. And, after all, Vancouver is a tourist town, we could educate and delight not only the locals but people from everywhere.
There’s a little problem in that apparently there was never actually an Indigenous-language name for the whole of False Creek. But, you know, that could be fixed.
Latest news · Starting in spring, we worked with the Hakai Institute on their Light-Trap program, gathering data on what crustaceans are living under the not-terribly-clear waters of False Creek. We think Dungeness crab may be coming back.
In September, there’s a BioBlitz, sort of the Marine-Biologist equivalent of a hackathon, where in the course of a few days scientists try to build a snapshot inventory of what’s living here.
Come on down! · Lots more projects are brewing. If you’re one of the very many people who either live in sight of False Creek or visit regularly, and our dream of making it something special resonates with you, come out for one of these projects and maybe join the Society!
And anyhow, if you’re in a place where you can visit False Creek, you should do that. And if you’re planning a visit to Vancouver, do drop by. It’s just a really good place. But it could be so much better.