The Friends’ To-Do List

A. Do the physical science

Is False Creek safe to swim in, or even wade in? Some say no, but others work underwater every day without ill-effects. The truth is that we don’t know.  We don’t know the marine geography very well, we don’t know the patterns of chemical and biological contamination, whether the “contaminants” are actually harmful, where they come from, and whether and how they might be remediated.  We don’t know what living organisms populate the Creek, what they eat and excrete, and whether their populations are growing or shrinking.

To Do:

  1. Conduct surveys and assays, gather time-series data, publish peer-reviewed studies, share the results with the research community and public.
  2. Encourage citizen science projects. Low-cost visual technologies such as underwater baited cameras can survey marine life even in murky waters.
  3. Conduct a comprehensive mapping and assessment of human impacts.
  4. Explore educational STEM engagement for students of all ages.                                          

B. Do the social science

False Creek is where the people of Vancouver interface most intimately with the Pacific Ocean.  How does that affect our culture, and how does our culture need to change to become better neighbors with the ocean?

Culture is based on storytelling. The Aboriginal stories come first, and waves of settlers from Europe and Asia brought plenty of their own. The history of the water, and the lands around it, is grubby and vigorous and full of flavor, as Vancouver’s infamous foresters and grifters and real-estate promoters built what has somehow become a destination for tourists around the world. People who visit False Creek should hear these stories told. 

To Do:

  1. Encourage projects that collect local ecological knowledge through interviews with residents, recreational fishers, kayakers, divers, ferry operators, and boaters.
  2. Conduct inclusive remembering workshops/events (how it was) and also forward looking visioning workshops (how we want it to be).
  3. Establish historical boat tours with volunteer docents and Native Wisdom Keepers.

C. Engage First Nations

False Creek was a living place with a vibrant human community for a very long time before the colonialists arrived. Names and stories and histories have been neglected and even lost. The future of False Creek needs First Nations leadership.

To Do:

  1. Establish a connection with Indigenous leadership and BC’s Guardian program to assess applicability to False Creek. This could include the creation of a post-secondary career training program in Indigenous Marine Stewardship.
  2. Work with the Native-led and -partnered real-estate developments, Sen̓áḵw and Quantum.

D. Build brand equity and
a communication strategy

False Creek isn’t a thing at the moment, it’s a space between things. To realize its potential we should develop and strengthen communication channels and relevant touchpoints/equities.  

To Do:

  1. Develop equities (logomark, typeface, tone of voice, slogan, illustration/photo, elevator pitch etc).
  2. Create a podcast based on individuals and orgs working in and on False Creek’s waters.
  3. Consult with First Nations on alternatives to the current name and identify subregions based on Matthews’ 1938 map of Indigenous False Creek places

E. Let the people in

A half-million people or more can walk to False Creek, and it’s an easy trip for another 2½ million.  But today, too few come down to experience the water.  There needs to be easier access to get the people on and in the water: Things to do and see, spaces for musicians and storytellers and graphical artists; False Creek becomes a destination.  It should also be a community in the same way that Granville Island is.  There are 440 acres of undeveloped lightly-used surface area, rich with opportunity.

To Do:

  1. Engage with therapeutic practitioners (ecotherapists, psychotherapists/counsellors) to explore the opportunities for nature as healer. 
  2. Improve public access – for example for paddle boarders!
  3. Start an annual False Creek Festival.
  4. Engage with local architects and planners (academia, students and private/public sectors) to initiate projects that explore place-making at the water’s edge. 

Support the governments

False Creek, as part of the Pacific Ocean, is a Federal jurisdiction. But geographically, it’s obviously part of the City of Vancouver. Legally, Vancouver is a construct of the province of BC. All these levels of government are friendly to the idea of making False Creek into a jewel, a gathering place, full of human and marine life, a tourist destination.  

To Do:

  1. Identify current Federal marine environmental policy that can be strengthened and extended with the creation of protected status for False Creek.
  2. Engage in City of Vancouver Blueways Proposal and Sea2City Design Challenge
  3. Research protection options including IPCA’s, “Respected Marine Areas”
  4. Reach out to existing NGOs working in the Marine Sustainability Community
  5. Convene a Panel of Experts – Indigenous Leadership, municipal and provincial participants and civic organizations such as SwimDrinkFish, Georgia Strait Alliance, Science World, Vancouver Maritime Museum, Granville Island, and others, including all Friends of False Creek!

Bring the water to life

This is contingent on the scientific work mentioned at the top of this list. False Creek’s waters could be alive with fish and mammals, its shores edges green with land and sea plants and dense with shellfish, sea stars, and other intertidal dwellers. How do we get there from here? 

To Do:

  1. Seek out the best academic and industry experts and survey the relevant research.
  2. Work with granting agencies to find paths to funding for remediation activities.