Vancouver Planning Chronology

A Chronology of Planning and Development in Vancouver

This chronology describes significant decisions, actions and events in the planning and development history of the City of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The purpose is to provide an overview of these transformative events, or ‘milestones,’ that contributed to shaping Vancouver is a unique urban centre.;xNLx;The chronology, first launched in 2016 created in collaboration with numerous partners, is an evolving project that will be enhanced over time. The story of the chronology can be [found here](;xNLx;The chronology is a project of the [Vancouver City Planning Commission](, a body of citizen volunteers appointed by Vancouver City Council to provide advice on the city’s future. It is intended to provide a tool for grounding discussions about the future in an understanding of the legacy of the past.;xNLx;

1763-10-07 06:07:00

Royal Proclamation signed

The Royal Proclamation is a document that set out guidelines for European settlement of Aboriginal territories in what is now North America.

1790-01-01 00:00:00

Indigenous communities established in the Lower Mainland for over 10,000 years

At the time of the arrival of European explorers in 1791, indigenous peoples had been living in the Fraser River delta for more than 10,000 years.

1791-07-05 00:00:00

First contact between European explorers and Indigenous people

Spanish explorer Lieutenant José Maria Narvåez was the first European to come to the area, landing west of modern-day Point Grey on July 5, 1791.

1827-08-01 00:00:00

Hudson’s Bay Company establishes first year-round trading post

The establishment of the year-round Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) trading post at Fort Langley formalizes a trading relationship with native populations of the lower mainland.

1846-06-15 00:00:00

49th Parallel established as US/British border

The Oregon Treaty establishes the British-American boundary at 49 degrees North, giving Britain sovereignty over the lower mainland and Burrard Inlet and placing the lands in what will become British Colombia.

1858-01-01 00:00:00

Langley proclaimed Gold Rush capital

The influx of over 20,000 prospectors and others, largely from the American States and the idea of exploiting the rich resources of gold and lumber, prompts the British government to proclaim the Colony of British Colombia and appoint the Hudson’s Bay Company’s head man, James Douglas, to preside over it. Fort Langley is made its capital.

1859-02-04 00:00:00

Pre-emption Law and Creation of Military and Indian Reserves

In January 1860, Governor Douglas brought in pre-emption laws that allowed any person to stake off one pre-emption of 160 acres of vacant land in the Greater Vancouver region, and reserved lands for the military and for the native population.

1863-01-01 00:00:00

Lumber industry established

Three saw mills -- the Pioneers Mill in 1863, Moody’s Mill in 1865 on the north side of the Burrard Inlet, along with Stamps’ Mill in 1865 on the south side of the Inlet -- established the local lucrative lumber industry.

1869-06-22 00:00:00

First Nations in Vancouver restricted to Reserve Lands

In 1869, the Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh, and Musqueam First Nations were given small Indian reserves that were transferred to the authority of the federal government after BC joined Canada in 1871.

1870-03-10 00:00:00

Granville Townsite Established

On March 10, 1870, the settlement know locally as Gastown was given its official name: Granville Townsite.

1882-01-01 00:00:00

Survey of West End DL 185

The 1882 City of Liverpool survey of DL 185 was a significant milestone in the development of the West End.

1885-01-01 00:00:00

CPR Western Terminus to be in Vancouver

The CPR announced that its transcontinental railway’s western terminus will be in Vancouver rather than Port Moody.

1885-03-15 00:00:00

Hamilton begins survey of the streets of Vancouver

In 1885 CPR Civil Engineer Lauchlan Hamilton started the first survey of the City of Vancouver naming the majority of the streets in the process.

1886-01-01 00:00:00

Bridges over False Creek connect to the south

Bridges built over False Creek connected downtown with the southern half of the city. Beginning in 1886 the bridges built include: Kitsilano railway trestle in 1886 (a fixed span, removed in 1898 and replaced in 1902 by a steel draw, removed in 1983); Main Street replacement bridge in 1888, replaced again in 1908; Granville Bridge in 1889, replaced in 1909 and 1954; Cambie Bridge in 1891, replaced in 1911 and 1985; Great Northern Railway bridge (technically, the Vancouver Westminster & Yukon Railway) in 1905, removed following the filling of the False Creek flats.

1886-04-06 00:00:00

The Birth of Vancouver

The City of Vancouver was founded on April 6th, 1886, with boundaries of Burrard Inlet, Alma, 16th Avenue and Nanaimo Street.

1886-06-13 00:00:00

The Great Fire

Just nine weeks after its incorporation, the City of Vancouver burned down in the Great Fire on June 13, 1886.

1888-09-26 00:00:00

Vancouver Parks Committee Established

The Vancouver Parks Committee, a predecessor to the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation was established in 1888.

1889-03-28 00:00:00

Capilano water system connected to Vancouver

In 1889, the Capilano water system was established and connected to Vancouver.

1890-06-17 00:00:00

Streetcar system brings modern public transportation

On June 17, the first streetcar started to run from Westminster Avenue (now Main Street) to Hastings Street, marking the arrival of modern public transportation in Vancouver.

1892-04-13 00:00:00

The Municipality of South Vancouver incorporated

On April 13, all the land west of Boundary Road bounded by Alma, 16th, Main, 25th, Knight, 16th, Nanaimo and 29th Avenue was incorporated as the municipality of South Vancouver.

1894-05-01 00:00:00

The first great Fraser River flood

In May 1894, the Fraser River Valley, from Chilliwack all the way to Lulu Island (present day Richmond) was flooded due to a rapid snow melt.

1897-01-01 00:00:00

First fire atlas of Vancouver

The first fire atlas of Vancouver was published by Charles E. Goad Co. Ltd. It was updated 1902; redone in 1912 and 1927, and updated through the 1950s.

1901-01-01 00:00:00

Building permit requirements established

As of 1901, the City of Vancouver required that all applications to construct,, move or improve existing buildings be recorded.

1902-01-01 00:00:00

Future of the eastern False Creek Flats determined

Over the decade starting in 1900, the future of the eastern False Creek Flats was determined through a succession of decisions.

1904-07-23 00:00:00

Second direct rail connection to Vancouver

In 1904, the second direct rail connection to Vancouver is established by the Vancouver Westminster & Yukon Railway, subsidiary of the Great Northern Railway.

1908-01-01 00:00:00

Point Grey municipality separates from South Vancouver

In 1908, the western half of South Vancouver separated and became the Municipality of Point Grey, with an eastern boundary of Cambie (north of Eburne) and a municipal hall in Kerrisdale.

1910-01-01 00:00:00

False Creek filled in

In 1910, the City of Vancouver reached an agreement with the Canadian National Railway. In exchange for spending at least 4 million dollars to fill the marsh and building a rail line and hotel (Hotel Vancouver), the City of Vancouver would give 160 acres of the 220 acres created with the fill in of the creek.

1910-03-10 00:00:00

First Skyscraper: the Dominion Trust Building

The Dominion Trust Building, constructed during the economic boom period and finished in March 1910, was the first skyscraper of downtown Vancouver.

1911-01-01 00:00:00

Hastings Townsite and Lot DL 301 joined Vancouver

In 1911, Hastings Townsite and DL 301 joined the City of Vancouver.

1914-01-01 00:00:00

Recession World War I halt Vancouver’s growth

A global recession from the end of 1912 through the First World War put a stop to development in Vancouver and caused a decrease in population.

1914-01-01 00:00:00

Shaughnessy Heights Settlement and Building Restriction Acts

The Shaughnessy Heights Act was established on March 4, 1914 by the Point Grey Municipality, ensuring that only single family homes could be built in the Shaughnessy Heights neighbourhood. It was followed by the Shaughnessy Heights Building Restriction Act in 1922, which prevented subdividing lots and limited lots to only one house.

1914-08-15 00:00:00

Panama Canal opens

The Panama Canal opened in 1914 and changed the movement of goods, benefiting Vancouver’s port and making it Canada’s premier western city.

1915-07-01 00:00:00

First Georgia Viaduct opens

The first Georgia Street Viaduct opened in 1915 to provide a connection between Beatty Street and Main Street, bridging the escarpment and industrial lands between downtown and Strathcona in east Vancouver.

1916-01-01 00:00:00

Granville Island created as industrial site

Granville Island was completed in 1916 using material dredged from False Creek.

1922-09-05 00:00:00

Point Grey town planning bylaw passed

Point Grey becomes the first North American municipality to pass a town planning bylaw, on September 5, 1922, aimed at preserving the municipality’s existing residential neighbourhoods and defining future development.

1923-01-01 00:00:00

Vancouver’s first city bus service begins - BECR

The British Columbia Electric Railway (BCER) began operating rubber-tired buses in 1923, and started an inter-city service between New Westminster and Vancouver a year later.

1923-09-03 00:00:00

Pacific Highway I-5 is paved, connecting Vancouver to Seattle

Originally known as Yale Road, the gravel Pacific Highway was paved on September 3, 1923.

1925-01-01 00:00:00

Town Planning Act passed by Province

In 1925, under pressure from several municipalities, the British Columbia government passes the Town Planning Act, which gave municipalities in British Columbia the authority to prepare official town plans, as well as establish town-planning commissions to advise on such matters.

1925-01-01 00:00:00

UBC Point Grey campus opens in Point Grey

The University of BC officially opens its Point Grey campus.

1926-01-01 00:00:00

Vancouver and Point Grey take control of land use planning

Vancouver City Council and Point Grey City Council established planning commissions with responsibility for preparing and carrying out official town plans.

1927-01-01 00:00:00

West End becomes an apartment district

Vancouver City Council approved a zoning bylaw that provided for residential, apartment and restricted districts, and designated zoning in Vancouver’s West End to allow for apartment buildings.

1928-01-01 00:00:00

Bartholomew Plan shapes development of Vancouver

US consultant Harland Bartholomew and Associates unveiled city plans for the efficient development of Vancouver.

1929-01-01 00:00:00

Great Depression spurs hobo jungles, secondary suites

The Great Depression hit Vancouver hard in 1929, with makeshift settlements sprouting throughout Vancouver and financially strapped homeowners beginning to rent out secondary suites in their homes to help pay the mortgage.

1929-01-01 00:00:00

Three municipalities unite to form Vancouver

The municipalities of South Vancouver, Point Grey, and Vancouver are amalgamated under a plan led by Vancouver Mayor Louis D. Taylor to stimulate economic growth and cut the cost of municipal government through economies of scale.

1931-07-06 08:12:56

Marine Building Opens

From that first breaking of the ground to the formal opening October 7, 1930 was 16 months. And, when the Marine Building opened—with 21 floors at a height of 97.8 metres (321 feet)—Vancouver had seen nothing like it.

1932-07-01 00:00:00

Burrard Bridge Opens

It was July 1, 1932. “A snip of a pair of golden scissors in the hands of Mayor Louis D. Taylor,” ran a news report, “and Vancouver's $3 million Burrard Bridge was opened to the public Friday afternoon, July 1 . . . Hardly was the ribbon cut in front of the devouring eyes of movie cameras, than thousands of pedestrians and hundreds of cars surged across the magnificent white structure in a procession of triumph, celebrating another step in Vancouver's progress.” One headline called it: A Symphony of Steel and Concrete.

1933-07-16 00:00:00

CPR Tunnel Opens

At midnight on July 16, 1933 all trains of the Canadian Pacific Railway—which had been running at street level through downtown Vancouver for decades, infuriating motorists—came off the city’s busy streets and switched to a new tunnel. The railway would use the 1,396-metre-long (4,579 feet) tunnel for nearly 50 years. Today it’s used by SkyTrain.

1936-01-01 00:00:00

Vancouver spending spree during Great Depression

Vancouver's Golden Jubilee, the celebration of its 50th anniversary, brought business and civic groups together to organize events that would lift the spirits of the city’s residents during tough economic times, leading to construction of a new city hall and a new perspective on Chinatown.

1937-01-01 08:44:14

Helena Gutteridge elected as the first female member of Vancouver City Council

Helena Gutteridge was elected as the first female member of Vancouver City Council in 1937.

1938-01-01 00:00:00

Roadway slices up Stanley Park for Lions Gate Bridge

Vancouver voted in 1933 in favor of building a roadway through Stanley Park for construction of the Lions Gate Bridge, spurring real estate development in West Vancouver and North Vancouver.

Vancouver Planning Chronology

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