View of Water Street facing towards Harbour Centre, pedestrians standing and walking on the road.

City celebrates the official opening of the Water Street Pedestrian Zone alongside Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh Nation)

July 4 2024 –

Today in Gastown, the City of Vancouver with members and staff of Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh Nation) gathered to celebrate the official opening of the Water Street Pedestrian Zone Pilot.

“I’m beyond excited to officially kick off the Water Street Pedestrian Zone! We’ve partnered closely with Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations to bring their rich cultures to life here in Gastown,” says Mayor Ken Sim. “This is a step towards a more inclusive and vibrant community, supported by our UNDRIP Action Plan and our Council’s commitment to uplifting this iconic neighbourhood and creating a world-class city.”

In recent times, Gastown’s streets and public spaces have not reflected the histories and culture of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations despite Gastown being a place of importance in their past, present and future.

As part of the Gastown Public Spaces Plan, and this summer’s Water Street Pedestrian Zone Pilot, the City is working to advance Reconciliation with the local Nations and support their visibility on their lands.

As an initial step in this effort, the Water Street Pedestrian Zone Pilot features:

  • Planter art wraps completed by:  
    • Sḵwx̱wú7mesh children of Xwemélch’stn Etsimxwawtxw (Capilano Little Ones School) from K4 to Grade 5 art piece for Earth Day 2024  
    • səlilwətaɬ artists Jordan Gallie, Jonas Jones, and Zac George 
  • Storytelling boards sharing the history of Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw, the place name Sḵwx̱wú7mesh has for Gastown, the history of səlilwətaɬ and Burrard Inlet, and what we can do now to restore the Inlet for the future 
  • Welcome translations on sandwich board signage in the local Nations languages: 
    • Hən̓q̓əmin̓əm: ʔəm̓i ce:p  
    • Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Sníchim: i chap tl’iḵ 

“We have been out of sight and out of mind on our own lands, for far too long,” says Sxwixwtn, Wilson Williams, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw Spokesperson and Council Member. “Lekleki (Gastown) is one of the most historic neighbourhoods in K'emk'emeláy̓ (Vancouver), but until now, has not reflected the deep connection local Indigenous Peoples have to the area. Seeing our Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumix history shared in our Sníchim (language), along with the beautiful artwork from our mén̓men (children) in the Water Street Pedestrian Zone makes me immensely proud. I truly hope this initiative is just the first of many in making our beautiful city a more inclusive place for all.”

"The Water Street Pedestrian Zone Pilot is part of our ongoing collaboration with the City of Vancouver to support making Gastown more people-friendly. At the same time, this work is making our səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh Nation) culture and history more visible on our traditional lands, alongside our relatives xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam Indian Band) and the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish Nation),” says Chief Jen Thomas, səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh Nation). “As part of this pilot, storyboards and planter box wraps will display vibrant artwork by Tsleil-Waututh Nation artists Olivia George, Jordan Gallie, and Jonas Jones. I look forward to seeing Water Street become a more welcoming space for all.” 

The Water Street Pedestrian Zone Pilot is a vibrant and activated “people-first” place that supports business and community connections from July through August. It includes car-free and car-light sections along Water Street and Maple Tree Square and features shared seating, expanded patios, merchandise displays, storytelling and artwork courtesy of the local Nations, live performances and special events.

During the pilot, visitors can enjoy summer festivities in the heart of Gastown in a safe and comfortable environment. Upcoming events include:

To see a full list of upcoming events, visit .

Local creatives, residents, businesses and community organizations are invited to host free small-scale events and community-oriented activities in the pedestrian zone through the City’s Open Streets Permit. The permit is available at no cost and is part of City efforts to support a vibrant community experience and reimagine our streets as lively spaces for everyone.

Observations and Feedback

Staff are closely observing the pedestrian zone, gathering feedback from residents, businesses, visitors and tourists to adjust and inform future planning. Learnings will guide future planning for pedestrian zone pilots and inform the overall strategy for pedestrianizing Water Street as part of the Gastown Public Space Plan.

To share feedback about the pilot or learn more about the Gastown Public Spaces Plan, stop by an upcoming pop-up event on Water Street or participate in a design workshop. For more information, or to RVSP, visit

Getting to Gastown and the Water Street Pedestrian Zone

Locals, visitors and cruise-ship passengers are encouraged to pop by the Destination Vancouver kiosk at the corner of Water Street and Cordova Street to discover everything Gastown has to offer.

For more information on all Gastown related projects, visit