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False Creek: A Neighborhood Guide

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False Creek: A Neighborhood Guide

False Creek is both a waterway and a great example of urban living and natural beauty placed side by side. If you're considering making it your home, planning a visit, or just curious about this waterfront gem, our guide has you covered. 

In the following sections, we'll explore the neighborhoods that call False Creek home, dig into the lifestyle it offers, and unveil the multitude of activities that make it a true Vancouver treasure. Let’s dive in!

Where is False Creek?

False Creek is a popular urban area located along the southern edge of downtown Vancouver. Its name is derived from a narrow inlet of the same name, which acts as a natural border for certain neighborhoods in Vancouver.

To the north, False Creek neighbors the West End and Yaletown, while the eastern boundary is marked by Downtown Eastside. Moving southward, False Creek's waterfront aligns with the edges of Kitsilano, Granville Island, and Olympic Village. 

In terms of geographical boundaries, False Creek is bordered by Quebec Street to the east, while its southern limit starts at West 6th Avenue and extends to 2nd Avenue near the Cambie Bridge underpass. Finally, Burrard Street forms its western border.

Within this geographical context, False Creek extends from the western entrance at English Bay, between Vanier Park and Sunset Beach, to its eastern reach at Science World. 

As it covers a huge portion of downtown Vancouver, False Creek is home to some of the city's most renowned attractions.

Where is False Creek
(Image by lucasinacio.com on Shutterstock)

Why is it called False Creek Vancouver?

Why is it called False Creek Vancouver
(Image by Gelu Popa on Shutterstock)

False Creek earned its curious name through a navigation mishap. During a hydrographic survey in the mid-19th century, George Henry Richards and fellow European explorers were traversing the south arm of the Burrard Inlet, which they thought was a creek.

When the mistake became apparent to them, they humorously christened the waterway “False Creek.” There you go, now we see the connection.

The history of False Creek, however, is not as short as that. 

Spanning over 150 years, it harks back to the First Nations people who were the first settlers in the region. False Creek was once mostly tidal flats, providing the people sustenance through clams and oysters.

With the arrival of European settlers, the area’s fate took a different turn. The region was envisioned to be a beautiful neighborhood that harmonized with the picturesque views of Fairview and Mount Pleasant (hence, the beautiful sounding names). 

But instead, False Creek transformed following the lead of Canadian Pacific Railway. Old-growth forests were out, an industrial hub got in complete with rail depots and shipyards, which for years have dimmed the initial allure of the place.

It wasn’t until the 1960s that a vision for a new False Creek emerged, championed by a UBC geography professor. By the time the city hosted Expo ’86, False Creek had almost completely morphed from its industrial past.

Now, False Creek can be regarded as a prime example of “Vancouverism,” a planning concept pioneered by Larry Beasley. The transformation of the region, oriented towards mixed use developments, shows exactly how resilient and dynamic False Creek is.

How to Get around False Creek

Car: If you’re exploring False Creek with your own car, you’ll appreciate the easy access to major north/south arterials like Cambie, Oak, and Granville Streets.

Bus: Getting around the area is simple with buses operating key inner-city routes, including those along Broadway, Cambie, and Granville Island. 

For instance, the last stop of Route 50 False Creek / Granville Island is at Olympic Village Station @ Bay 3.

Ferry: Consider Aquabus and False Creek Ferries for a unique way to navigate False Creek. These private ferry services offer efficient passenger transport throughout the area.

The local Aquabus, in particular, runs every 15 minutes, making it a convenient choice for cruising up and down False Creek. False Creek Ferries serve nine stops along the False Creek waterfront, with all three routes making stops at Granville Island.

Train: You can hop on the Canada Line on the Rapid Transit station at Olympic Village. It’s located at the intersection of Cambie Street and West 2nd Avenue, adjacent to the Cambie Street Bridge.

The Millennium Line extension to the Broadway corridor is on the horizon, promising to significantly cut down travel time to Vancouver’s west side and the University of British Columbia (UBC).

Bike: Eco-conscious travelers have options like the regional bike share system, Mobi, or private bike rentals.

The Seaside Greenway offers a bike lane that circles False Creek. Burrard Bridge and Cambie Bridge, both crossing False Creek, have bike lanes on their  west side. 

For a leisurely ride with stunning views, Jericho Beach to False Creek Seawall is another cycling path to try around the area.

Is False Creek a good place to live?

Housing at False Creek

Housing at False Creek
(Image by False Creek Co-op)

False Creek is a mixed use neighborhood with both residential and commercial spaces enjoying the waterfront location and proximity to amenities, parks, and recreational areas. 

Olympic Village and Granville Island are known for their roles in the city’s cultural history (and shopping for the latter), but they also boast residential communities. They have a mix of housing types: condominiums, townhouses, and apartments, with a few single detached homes.

Here’s a quick glance at the prices of common housing types in the area in September 2023:

Townhouse Condo
1 bedroom unitN/ACAD 784,000
2 bedroom unitCAD 858,000CAD 1,000,000
3 bedroom unitCAD 1.2CAD 1,500,000

Data from Zolo

As you can see, housing options here are still expensive. What balances this is the availability of non-market housing units that are definitely more affordable than market-rate ones.

The visionary neighborhood from where the mixed-use community started, False Creek South, has around 1,300 units on private land or housing from other levels of government, and 1,800 units leased by the City of Vancouver on their owned 80% of False Creek.

Aside from leasehold strata (condos and townhouses), this part of the region also offers co-op housing, market and non-market rental, floating co-op, and social housing. 

The City has plans to develop Northeast False Creek and create more affordable units. In February 2023, the City announced plans to direct millions towards this initiative, while Concord Pacific provides three sites for more non-market housing in False Creek North.

The plans include increasing access to food assets, through community gardens, community kitchen and food programs for vulnerable and isolated groups.

Community at False Creek

Community at False Creek
(Image by Meandering Trail Media on Shutterstock)

In 2016, the False Creek community made up 1% (5,597) of Vancouver’s total population (631,486) based on the City’s fact sheet building on Statistics Canada Census. The median age in False Creek is 54.3 and the median household income is at CAD 78,176.

Clarifying this data, False Creek South Neighborhood Association released a report identifying differences between residents of leasehold and freehold housing. 

For instance, the median income for the former appears to be CAD 70,128, while the latter is at CAD 88,361. The former group is made up of 3,235 individuals, versus the 2,730 individuals in the latter, so the median should probably skew to the left.

The report sheds light on a few more things on the composition of the population, including average resident’s age, lone-parent family households, and percentages of unit renters versus owners – the point being that the City’s data could be on the higher side.

Health and Wellness at False Creek

Health and Wellness at False Creek
(Image by ImageNavi on Shutterstock)

False Creek is home to several health and wellness centers that provide a wide array of services, including preventative health assessments, diagnostics, and executive health programs.

The list includes False Creek Diagnostics and False Creek Healthcase Centre; nearby, you can also find Acumamas Wellness and St. Paul Hospital. For those inclined to maintain an active lifestyle, Granville Island hosts a fitness centre on Granville Island.

Much like in other community centres (vancouver community centers) in the city, the False Creek Community Centre also offers a number of programs and amenities designed to promote the well-being of residents in the area. 

The yoga classes catering to specific groups of people are indeed a great example of these efforts.

Education at False Creek

Education at False Creek
(Image by VisualArtStudio on Shutterstock)

False Creek offers a great selection of schools, catering to a range of educational preferences within its catchment.

As part of Vancouver School Board #39, False Creek Elementary School stands right within the community, serving students from kindergarten to grade 7. 

Those who want to check out a little further will find Ecole Lord Tennyson Elementary School on Maple Street and Henry Hudson Elementary School on Cypress Street.

independent institutions in close proximity to False Creek expand the choices available to families. Madrona School offers a specialized K–8 program tailored for gifted students, while St. John’s is an IB World School.

Nearby, there’s also St. Augustine School, a Catholic school in the Kitsilano neighborhood.

Notable Neighborhoods in False Creek

Granville Island

Granville Island
(Image by Jeff Whyte on Shutterstock)

Within the vibrant waters of False Creek lies Granville Island, a renowned cultural and culinary hub that’s a must-visit for locals and tourists alike. In essence, Granville Island shows the spirit of False Creek – diverse, creative, and beautiful.

A visit to Granville Island is an immersion in creativity. The island is dotted with artisan studios and galleries where you can witness artists and craftspeople at work, creating everything from glassware to textiles. It’s a place where art comes to life.

Food lovers will be delighted by the Public Market, a food emporium offering an array of fresh, local produce, gourmet treats, and international cuisine. Whether you’re in the mood for freshly baked goods, exotic spices, or a quick bite to eat, you’ll find it here.

Granville Island is also a haven for theater lovers. The Granville Island Theatre District boasts several renowned theaters, showcasing a diverse range of performances, from thought-provoking plays to side-splitting comedies.

To top it all off, the island’s waterfront location provides picturesque views of False Creek and downtown Vancouver. 

Yaletown District

Yaletown District
(Image by Harry Beugelink on Shutterstock)

Yaletown District, a chic and bustling neighborhood situated along the northern edge of False Creek. This area is a unique blend of heritage and modernity, which draws movers and visitors alike.

Here, you’ll still see the exact reason why we said earlier that False Creek has almost (not fully) shed all of its former self. The historic red-brick warehouses are still visible here, but now converted into trendy boutiques, restaurants and loft-style residences.

The district is teeming with world-class restaurants, offering diverse cuisines from around the globe. Whether you’re craving sushi, Italian, or local Pacific Northwest fare, you’ll find a restaurant that satisfies your palate.

Shopping enthusiasts will revel in the boutiques and galleries that line the streets of Yaletown. From high-end fashion to one-of-a-kind art pieces, there’s something for every shopper here.

Yaletown hosts a lively calendar of events and festivals throughout the year. People love participating in Illuminate Yaletown, a light exhibition, Let’s Hear it for Yaletown,  and Pet-A-Palooza in the summer.

Olympic Village

Olympic Village
(Image by meunierd on Shutterstock)

Olympic Village (olympic village vancouver) is located at the southeastern edge of False Creek. It’s not just a thriving community but it’s also a living legacy of the 2010 Winter Olympics, and now the prime example of sustainability.

The heart of Olympic Village is its stunning waterfront setting, providing breathtaking views of False Creek, downtown Vancouver, and the North Shore mountains. It’s a picturesque backdrop for daily strolls, waterfront dining, or simple people watching.

One of the neighborhood’s standout features is its commitment to sustainability. Many of the buildings in Olympic Village are designed with green technologies, making it one of the greenest communities in North America. 

The neighborhood also hosts numerous community events and activities throughout the year. From outdoor movie nights at the Village Square to fitness classes along the seawall, there’s always something happening in Olympic Village.

As you explore the streets of Olympic Village, you’ll discover plaques and markers commemorating the 2010 Olympics. The Olympic Cauldron, which burned brightly during the Games, still stands as a symbol of the city’s Olympic heritage.

What To Do in False Creek

Unwind at Vanier Park

Unwind at Vanier Park
(Image by Oleg Mayorov on Shutterstock)

Vanier Park in False Creek is a serene spot for relaxation. You can take a leisurely stroll along the waterfront promenade, let kids run free in the playground, or have a family picnic in the open green spaces.

It’s also a fantastic spot for flying kites, watching the sunset, or simply unwinding with a good book. 

The park also houses cultural attractions like the Maritime Museum, Space Centre, and Museum of Vancouver, offering a chance to soak in knowledge while enjoying the peaceful surroundings.

Learn about the Cosmos at the Space Centre

Learn about the Cosmos at the Space Centre
(Image by Wangkun Jia on Shutterstock)

A visit to the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre in False Creek offers an intriguing journey into the mysteries of the universe. Here, you can immerse yourself in interactive exhibits, enjoy planetarium shows, and even stargaze at the observatory. 

It’s an educational and captivating experience for anyone curious about space. Be sure to check the center’s schedule for planetarium showtimes as they’re the highlight of the place.

Catch a Concert at BC Place Stadium

Catch a Concert at BC Place Stadium
(Image by meunierd on Shutterstock)

The BC Place Stadium is this iconic multi-purpose stadium that is also a hub of excitement and live events. You can catch a sports game or attend a concert here and BC Place always gives you an unforgettable experience.

The stadium has a retractable roof, making it an all-season venue, rain or shine. Inside, you’ll find state-of-the-art facilities, comfortable seating, and a vibrant atmosphere that adds to the enjoyment of any event. 

It’s also conveniently located within False Creek, making it easily accessible for visitors from across the city.

Enjoy Your Seafood at Fisherman’s Wharf

Enjoy Your Seafood at Fisherman’s Wharf
(Image by Margarita Young on Shutterstock)

False Creek Fisherman’s Wharf offers a delightful excursion for seafood enthusiasts and sightseers alike. This working fishing wharf in False Creek provides a glimpse into Vancouver’s maritime heritage. 

You can watch as local fishermen unload their catches of the day, which may include a variety of seafood like salmon, halibut, and spot prawns.

The wharf is also home to eateries and floating seafood markets where you can grab freshly caught seafood dishes. It’s a charming and authentic experience that lets you connect with the city’s maritime traditions while savoring Pacific flavors.

Pay a Visit to Habitat Island

Pay a Visit to Habitat Island
(Image by Structured Vision on Shutterstock)

Visiting Habitat Island is not only a relaxing experience but also an opportunity to witness Vancouver’s dedication to environmental stewardship in the heart of False Creek.

It’s a place where you can connect with nature, observe the harmonious coexistence of wildlife and the city, and gain a deeper appreciation for the natural world. 

Habitat Island offers picturesque walking trails that wind through the lush vegetation, providing a peaceful setting for a leisurely stroll or birdwatching.

Traverse the Waters on a Ferry

Traverse the Waters on a Ferry
(Image by Denis Pepin on Shutterstock)

More than a practical transportation, taking the Harbour Ferry in False Creek is a delightful and scenic way to explore this vibrant waterfront district. 

As you cruise on the Harbour Ferry, you’ll be treated to picturesque views of the city’s skyline, the lush greenery of the waterfront parks, and the lively atmosphere of Granville Island. 

So, yes, it’s a great way to hop from one point to another, but the scenic adventure and unique perspective it provides is also worth trying out.

Walk along False Creek Bridge

Walk along False Creek Bridge
(Image by Xuanlu Wang on Shutterstock)

The False Creek Bridge is a pedestrian bridge offering fantastic views of the bustling waters below and the surrounding urban landscape. It’s a perfect spot for a leisurely stroll, jog, or a casual bike ride while taking in the waterfront sights.

The bridge provides a direct connection between the neighborhoods along the southern and northern shores of False Creek, making it a convenient pathway for both locals and visitors. 

If you’re exploring the diverse communities on either side or seeking a picturesque route to enjoy, the False Creek Bridge offers a wonderful and accessible way to experience the beauty of False Creek.

Get a Glimpse of Floating Homes at the Marina

Get a Glimpse of Floating Homes at the Marina
(Image by Oleg Mayorov on Shutterstock)

The floating home (floating homes vancouver) tradition on False Creek is such a unique and interesting sight to experience in False Creek. 

Heather Civic Marina and Spruce Harbor Marina will show you the houseboats and the lifestyle of liveaboards – complete with the adventures of their daily lives and the realistic challenges posed by them and by the waters to them.

Then, there’s the Sea Village Marina, which is where you’ll appreciate the fun, enticing, and colorful side of getting a floating home. The close-knit community adds to its warm and inviting atmosphere, making it a fascinating place to explore.

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