Outside might be one of the safest places places to spend time during the COVID-19 pandemic, but even the best Gore-Tex jacket isn't enough to make a picnic seem appealing on a rainy Vancouver winter day.
That's why the City of Vancouver is making use of its existing infrastructure to meet the increased demand for sheltered outdoor public spaces—a demand that comes as a direct result of that wet winter weather Vancouver is so well known for.
The city recently installed four "rain-friendly pop-up plazas" that will remain dry on even the soggiest days, thanks to the overhead protection offered by a pair of local bridges.
The trial plazas, featuring picnic tables and signage, can be found at the following locations:
- Cambie Bridge South #1 (outside the False Creek Neighbourhood Energy Utility at 1890 Spyglass Place)
- Cambie Bridge South #2 (between W 2nd Ave and W 1st Ave on the multi-use path)
- Cambie Bridge North (north of Cooper’s Park)
- Burrard Bridge North (south of the Seawall)
Two of the four rain-friendly plazas will also house ping pong tables.
According to the City of Vancouver's website, municipal staff will "collaborate with nearby community organizations and local stakeholders" to maintain the plazas, ensuring they "remain well cared-for, inclusive and comfortable."
More of Vancouver's existing pop-up plazas are sticking around
The new weather-protected plazas are the latest in a string of "pop-up" outdoor spaces recently created by the City of Vancouver. The initiative was sparked last year by the need for more common-use outdoor areas amidst the coronavirus pandemic and limits on indoor social gatherings.
The plazas are created and installed in partnership with Vancouver's Business Improvement Associations, local businesses, and communities, in an effort give residents more public space to enjoy, while maintaining a safe distance from each other.
As part of the project, city staff sought public feedback through a survey. In the responses, "we heard that rain protection during the rainy season was amongst the most common requests for improvement to the plazas," reads a notice posted to the City of Vancouver's "Shape Your City" website.
"Enhancing existing spaces under bridges is an efficient, low-cost way to trial weather protected plazas."
In addition to these four new spaces, the city recently announced its decision to extend nine pop-up plazas that were previously installed throughout Vancouver last summer. Though the plaza located at W 17th Ave and Cambie St has been removed, the city said it plans to re-install the pop-up in the spring, "as a seasonal space."
In the coming months, city staff also said they intend to add new upgrades and amenities to the existing pop-up plazas to "make them more welcoming."