Welcome to Genericville
Okay, they're just holes in the ground. But
one goes all the way under Burrard Inlet,
another plunges below UBC, a third is behind
some big green doors and the fourth may not
HEY, LET'S CHARGE A TOLL
Near the northern end of Stanley Park, at
the junction of Stanley Park Drive and Pipeline
Road, there stands a pavilion, unmarked except
for the letters GVRD. Within its walls, a
tunnel drops nearly straight down more than
400 feet into the soil and rock, passing
below First Narrows and coming up on the
far shore near the Capilano river. Seven
feet in diameter, the passageway is plenty
big enough for West Vancouver pedestrians
to commute through on their way to the brokerage,
the executive suite or the boiler room -
were it not for the millions of gallons of
water coursing through from the Capilano
watershed to thirsty consumers in Vancouver
and points south.
The Lions Gate Tunnel
Five feet across and 200 vertical feet straight
into the ground - these are the dimensions
of a tunnel that was dug on the UBC campus
back in 1936 by the Vancouver and Districts
Joint Sewerage and Drainage Board.
The tunnel's purpose was to divert water
away from the fragile cliffsides, thus preventing
a repeat of the spectacular landslide that
created Second Ravine. To ensure that the
water doesn't build up too much speed on
its way down, the sides of the tunnel are
lined with a six-inch spiral flange, which
also provides a convenient handhold for would-be
climbers. The only trick? You'll have to
find the entrance to the tunnel first.
BEHIND GREEN DOORS
Back in 1985, when BC Transit needed a way
to get their nifty new SkyTrain through downtown
to the waterfront, they cheated a little
and cut a deal to use the CPR's Dunsmuir
That's hardly a secret - thousands of commuters
ride that stretch of railway history daily.
What has been pretty much forgotten is that
the SkyTrain didn't use the whole tunnel.
A substantial disused section (now the property
of Concord Pacific) extends beneath downtown.
Musty and forgotten, it's employed for storage,
occasional film shoots and not much else.
In fact, a Concord Pacific spokesperson says
they'd rather people didn't even know that
the tunnel exists. Sorry: the big green doors
that mark its eastern terminus are clearly
visible in the side of the cliff below Beatty
Street near GM Place.
WHAT MYSTERIES LURK...
"Deep underground tunnels - the kind
you read of in mystery and detective novels
- now link the Hotel Vancouver with the Medical-Dental
Building and the Hotel Devonshire."
So said the Province on October 22, 1942
(and this was in the pre-tabloid days). Taking
their cue from the "advanced technology
of Soviet Russia," the managers of the
three buildings teamed up to heat their buildings
with common steam-heating systems. The boilers
were located in the basement of the Hotel
Vancouver. The tunnels - 36 feet below the
surface of the city's busiest street - housed
the pipes carrying the pressurized steam.
Two of the three buildings have since been
demolished, but what about the tunnels? No
one at the Hotel Vancouver seems to know
of their existence, while, according to city
engineers - and this is confidence-inspiring
- there are all kinds of things lurking in
the city's depths that they know nothing