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Strategy to create exceptional public spaces in Downtown Vancouver

June 29 2017 Places for People Downtown program invites public to share ideas

"From plazas to parklets, and laneway art to public squares, Downtown Vancouver has tremendous potential to deliver vibrant, inclusive and memorable public spaces," says Mayor Gregor Robertson.

People gathered at Jim Deva Plaza with the Speaker's Corner Megaphone

The City of Vancouver has launched the Places for People Downtown program, which will lead to a long-term strategy to ensure we have vibrant, exceptional and memorable public spaces in the downtown core.

Places for People Downtown will focus on public spaces such as those on:

  • Streets
  • Plazas
  • Laneways
  • Public open areas
  • Privately owned public spaces that are part of retail or office buildings

The goal is to establish a clear vision, values, and principles for downtown public space, and create a strategic framework that will shape a lively network by prioritizing and coordinating the development of public spaces.

Higher demands on public spaces

The development of a strategy comes at a key point as Downtown Vancouver is experiencing higher demands on its public spaces.

Changing demographics, limited available land and competing priorities are some of the issues that will be addressed through a comprehensive strategy that will ensure we have a welcoming and well-connected public space network.

An important component of the Places for People Downtown program will be gaining a better understanding of how people use and move through public spaces, along with their future needs and aspirations.

 Public Space and Public Life Study

In late August, the City's first ever Public Space and Public Life Study will assess how people use public space in approximately 20 locations throughout the Downtown. Intercept surveys will be used to gauge the public's level of satisfaction with these spaces.

The study will also assess the quality and physical characteristics of the downtown public space network.

Staff will be looking for community volunteers to help conduct the study, which will be repeated in early 2018 to assess seasonal variations in how people use public spaces.

Upcoming engagement opportunities

People will also be asked to share their views on the public spaces they currently enjoy, what they think needs improvement, and their creative ideas for new spaces through upcoming engagement opportunities that will include events, walking tours, workshops, questionnaires and more.

Find more information and ways to get involved

Draft strategy 

The Places for People Downtown work program will take approximately 18 months and a draft strategy will be presented to City Council for consideration in the second half of 2018.

The strategy will align with and advance Council policies, including:

  • Greenest City Action Plan
  • Transportation 2040
  • Healthy City Strategy Action Plan
  • Local area plans
  • Other City initiatives

It will also be informed by existing public space policies and guidelines, and align with ongoing work by the Vancouver Park Board on its Parks and Recreation Master Plan.

Quotes

Mayor Gregor Robertson

"From plazas to parklets, and laneway art to public squares, Downtown Vancouver has tremendous potential to deliver vibrant, inclusive and memorable public spaces," says Mayor Gregor Robertson. "I've heard clearly that Vancouverites want more and better public spaces across the City; the Places for People program could transform how residents and visitors alike experience Vancouver. I encourage everyone to participate in the many events, walking tours and workshops over the coming months, and be bold in giving the City new ideas on how we can best plan and deliver amazing public spaces."

Gil Kelley, General Manager of Planning, Urban Design and Sustainability

"While Downtown Vancouver is home to many popular and lively public spaces, we currently don't have a comprehensive strategy to guide the planning and delivery of public spaces into the future," says Gil Kelley, General Manager of Planning, Urban Design and Sustainability.  "The Downtown is growing and changing along with the lifestyles of the population that lives, works and plays there. We want to look at the types of spaces people want and need, and develop a more coordinated approach that is centred on people to deliver public space and connect it to walking, cycling and transit."