Hidden Gems of West Southlands
Crown Street, south of SW Marine Drive, Vancouver's first "sustainable street”
The street does not have curbs or gutters and impermeable surfaces were kept to a minimum allowing storm water run-off to flow into shallow ditches. Ditch vegetation filters grease, oil, and other pollutants before the water flows into Musqueam Creek.
The largest structure in West Southlands is the Highbury Interceptor, a 4.2 kilometer sewer main that carries sewage from Vancouver and parts of Burnaby to the sewage treatment plant on Iona Island, near the airport.
The treatment plant opened in 1963 and is currently in the process of a
$10-billion upgrade to tertiary treatment standards. The 3-meter diameter
pipe is at ground level as it runs through the Musqueam Marsh and then
dips underground as it goes under the north arm of the Fraser River.
In 2019, an air management facility was added to the Interceptor to
reduce sewer gas emissions. This building is on the west side of
Musqueam Park and includes a washroom open during the day,
and benches facing the park.
6376 Collingwood and 6275 Dunbar are on the city's inventory of heritage sites. Several homes reflect the distinctive mid-century West Coast architectural style that echoes the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, but with a British Columbia flare: bigger windows, more skylights and deeper overhangs.
Notable architects who have built homes in the neighbourhood include Barry Downs (6275 Dunbar Street), Fred Dalla-Lana (3691 West 48th Avenue and 6290 Collingwood Street), Peter Oberlander and landscape architect Cornelius Oberlander (6029 Olympic Avenue).
Green spaces dominate the neighbourhood
A park-like wooded entrance to West Southlands is located at the corner of Dunbar and Southwest Marine Drive. The triangle with indigenous dogwoods, flowering current and Oregon Grape is maintained with the help of volunteers.
Musqueam Park is a 24-hectare park with stands of second growth cedar and maple forest replacing western hemlock, Douglas fir, and red cedar that were cleared more than 100 years ago. The park also has irrigated soccer fields on the eastern edge and, on the western portion, an off-leash area for dogs from 6 am to 10 am, and from 5 pm to 10 pm. As recently as the 1960s, the area was occupied by horse stables and vegetable farms.
Musqueam Marsh Nature Park is directly south of Musqueam Park. These wetlands of less than one hectare are easily accessible by trails and a bridle path.
June's Pond In 2003, the West Southlands Ratepayers Association restored a pond in Musqueam Park where frogs and even a muskrat have been seen. The pond serves as a drainage tank for the adjacent fields. The Save Our Parkland Association dedicated the pond to June Binkert for her work to preserve the area from development.
Two golf courses Musqueam Golf Academy, which is open to the public, and the members-only Point Grey golf course abut the neighbourhood. Facilities at both locations can be booked for special events.
The acidic soil throughout the neighbourhood is excellent for rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias and other acid loving plants. Early settlers farmed the land for vegetables and fruit, but the farms disappeared years ago as housing expanded. A few old fruit and hazelnut trees remain on some properties and in Musqueam Park. Two of the neighbourhood's wonderful gardeners have been slowly developing a fruit, vegetable, and flower garden on the edge of the Park at the foot of Olympic Street. A little library was added near the garden in 2022.