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New parklets, squares and plazas mean more public spaces in Vancouver

Vancouverites have five new public spaces to get out and enjoy the remaining weeks of summer. The Robson and Bute Pilot Plaza opened just in time for Canada Day.
The Robson and Bute Pilot Plaza is one of five new public spaces open in the city this summer. Photo Jennifer Gauthier

Vancouverites have five new public spaces to get out and enjoy the remaining weeks of summer.

  • The Robson and Bute Pilot Plaza opened just in time for Canada Day. The temporary public plaza is a car-free space featuring modular seating and a public piano. The space will remain in place until October. While it is open, the city is working with the Robson Street Business Improvement Association to test different uses for the space, measure traffic impacts, hear feedback and gauge how the community might adopt it as a potential permanent plaza, similar to Jim Deva Plaza on Bute off Davie. Margaret Wittgens, director of public space and street use, said anecdotally there has been a lot of positive feedback on the new space. “It’s very well used.”
  • Meet the Parklet is the newest addition to Vancouver’s suite of parklets. Located at Main Street and East 27th Avenue, Meet the Parklet was designed and built by locals. It features railing plantings and gives people a place to sit, relax and enjoy a snack while strolling along Main Street. The area is the eighth parklet in the city. The first three were built as standalone projects back in 2011 and 2012. They proved to be popular, and the city launched the Parklet Pilot Project in 2013, Wittgens said, adding that it recently became a permanent program. Five more, including Meet the Parklet, have since been built. Parklets are sponsored by private partners but are free and open to the public.
  • The city recently created a double triangle plaza at the intersection of Union Street, Vernon Drive and Adanac Street, touting it as a “place to sit, hang out and watch the world roll by.”
  • The Arbutus Greenway has proved popular since opening earlier this year. The nine-kilometre corridor connects False Creek to the Fraser River. The current pathway is temporary, allowing residents to familiarize themselves with the greenway while plans to create a permanent pathway are underway. The route currently includes an all-weather hard surface that’s divided for walking and cycling, a bark mulch path for walking and jogging, washrooms, benches and Mobi bike share stations. During a 12-hour period following the official opening last month, the city counted 2,000 cyclists and 700 pedestrians along the greenway.
  • Gastown’s Maple Tree Square is getting a makeover. The city is currently relocating the barriers to create more space for walking in a busy area, allowing for more public seating and patios. Maple Tree Square is located at the intersection of Water and Carrall streets.

The City of Vancouver has a couple programs aimed at creating more public spaces in the city. The Viva Vancouver program works with community groups, local businesses and regional partners to transform road spaces into vibrant spaces — facilitating short- and long-term street closures to create public spaces, test new ideas and invite people to slow down, relax, connect with friends, people watch and even dance. The Places for People Downtown program, which launched this past June, is aimed at creating an overarching strategy for the city to “foster exceptional, vibrant and memorable public spaces throughout downtown.” Future phases of the program will include other areas of the city, such as Coal Harbour, the West End, Yaletown, False Creek North, Gastown and Chinatown.


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