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Council approves creation of vibrant public square on Robson

April 21 2016

VIVA Vancouver - Robson St

Today, Vancouver City Council voted to permanently close Robson Street between Howe Street and Hornby Street to motor vehicles, including buses, to create a public square in the heart of downtown Vancouver.

The decision comes almost 40 years after the original design for Robson Square had proposed it be closed to vehicles.

What happens next

As part of Council's approval, staff will be:

  • Looking to the public for feedback on the design
  • Developing a process to implement a stewardship program that would oversee funding and programming of the area

Closing this section of Robson Street will also allow staff to improve the intersections at Robson and Hornby streets and Robson and Howe streets for all road users.

Public square will encourage year-round programming

A permanent public square will encourage year-round programming and will seamlessly connect to the north end of the Vancouver Art Gallery.

“Transforming Robson Square into a traffic-free, permanent public plaza will bring vibrancy to an underutilized space in the city year-round,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson. “Robson Square is a natural gathering hub at the centre of downtown where residents gravitate to socialize, engage, and creatively express themselves. A permanent plaza at Robson Square will be a mainstay to enhance Vancouver’s walkability, vibrant culture, and liveability.”

Today, more pedestrians than drivers travel through this block of Robson Street.

Central gathering spaces are common in cities around the world like London's Trafalgar Square, Toronto's Dundas Square, and Portland's Pioneer Square and are widely recognized as landmarks and promote public gathering and civic expression.

The Robson Square complex will be the largest public space downtown, aside from the Seawall and Stanley Park, providing approximately 121,000 square meters for public use.

Learn more about the public square

Summer programming showed the need for a permanent public square

Over the last few years, the City has successfully experimented with closing Robson Square over the summer for VIVA Vancouver – Vancouver's public space program that has received international recognition.

As part of the program, designers from all over the world are invited to submit a design to the Robson Redux competition and the winning design is constructed for the summer. The success of the program, along with other major events like the Olympics, have demonstrated the need for a permanent public square.

Learn more about VIVA Vancouver