Challenges for 555 Cordova show Central Waterfront Hub plan is proving its worth

Most of the controversy about Cadillac Fairview’s now-rejected “origami” tower at 555 West Cordova has centred on how it fits in with the city’s past, especially heritage buildings like CPR Station to the west and the Landing to the east.

But an equally important question is how any project at that site fits in with the city’s future.

The 555 West Cordova project would be the first inside the boundaries of the Central Waterfront Hub Plan, adopted by council in a sleepy hearing in 2009 to guide the future of the most critical commuter and transportation hub in the province.

This is where Skytrain, Canada Line, West Coast Express, Helijet, Seabus, cruise ships, rail lines and many bus routes cluster. This is where jobs and people come together.

If we want to exploit all the possibilities of emerging sustainable transportation opportunities, including more commuter rail and intercity high speed rail, we need to protect that hub.

Many of those fuming at the Cadillac-Fairview proposal were quick to point the blame at a road allowance protected for future use on the rail lands below Cordova. The “revelation” that development on those lands is guided by the Hub Plan has already triggered calls for the Hub guidelines to be revised.

Is that necessary? No doubt any plan can be improved, but this one — the product of several years of study and consultation — has already proved its worth. And it certainly has everyone’s attention.