City Informer: What’s Inside the Towers on the Burrard Street Bridge?

"They were not designed as affordable waterfront bachelor suites."

With the vacancy rate at an all-time low, it’s only natural that one would start to look around for more creative housing opportunities. Or at least that’s why I first began taking a closer look at the towers on the Burrard Street Bridge. I mean, you can’t beat the location, and the Art Deco look is very hot right now. (Like The Great Gatsby! But just imagine if Gatsby lived inside a bridge! Wait, did he live in a bridge? I have not read the book.)

The now-four-lane bridge is as spectacular today as when it officially opened for business on Canada Day, 1932. To celebrate, a seaplane flew underneath it, and guests at a Hotel Vancouver reception admired a sugar replica of the structure: in my opinion, the ideal ways to celebrate any momentous occasion, from birthdays to brises.

The only downside to living in these towers is that they don’t have room for a queen-sized bed or human-sized people, because they are, if you want to get technical about it, full of cables. Yes, it turns out that the steel truss bridge towers were not designed as affordable waterfront bachelor suites just steps from the downtown core, but rather as a disguise for the things that—excuse me while I get scientific for a moment—stop the bridge-bridge from fally-downy.

Illustration: Byron Eggenschwiler

I have lived with roommates whom I would’ve gladly traded for a steel truss (because at least a steel truss wouldn’t drink all my beer), so I am still not discounting these “masonry chic” units as viable options. But this bridge did appear on a Canada Post stamp in 2011, so the landlord would probably feel entitled to charge a little more even though there’s no in-suite laundry, and also the general public are not legally “allowed inside the towers,” which makes it challenging to even submit a tenancy application.

Hope may not be entirely lost, though, for an enterprising apartment-hunter or modern troll. There’s a hidden stairwell on the south end of the bridge that provides access to Kits Point, but it was only open for two months before people started causing trouble in the secluded space and the city’s Department of This-Is-Why-We-Can’t-Have-Nice-Things had to close it for safety. But if you like living on the edge—and by “living on the edge” I mean “trespassing and squatting”—this zero-bed, zero-bath walkup has high ceilings and chic concrete finishes that would cost you $2,500 a month if it were in Yaletown.

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