Vancouver City Council takes next step towards pedestrianized Gastown

For Immediate Release

May 7, 2024

VANCOUVER, BC – Today, the ABC-led Vancouver City Council voted to approve a number of measures aimed at creating a more vibrant street environment ahead of the upcoming Summer 2024 Water Street Pilot program, an initiative that will see large portions of Gastown’s Water Street become car-free in the months of July and August.

“Just over a year ago, we put forward a bold vision for the future of Gastown – a plan that would ensure that Vancouver’s oldest neighbourhood could continue to be a world-class destination for years to come,” said ABC Councillor Sarah Kirby-Yung “We’re excited to see things finally start to come together”

The plans for a pedestrianized Water Street came as a result of Kirby-Yung’s motion ‘A People-Forward Gastown: A Bold, Forward Looking Vision for a Vibrant and Prosperous Neighbourhood’. The motion, passed by Council in May 2023, called for steps to be taken to pedestrianize Water Street, making it car-free or car-light on a seasonal or year-round basis. The motion also called for investment and steps to be taken to enhance the public realm and showcase Gastown’s historic character.

“Well-designed car-free streets are the norm in great cities all over the world,” said ABC Councillor Peter Meiszner. “Vancouverites are craving spaces where they can enjoy a meal or drink on a patio, or walk and shop in a fun, vibrant, car-free environment.”

To encourage a lively and active street environment, businesses will be able to set up pop up ‘market stalls’ with minimal licensing and no costs. Street musicians/buskers will be able to perform without costs or applications. Additionally, the city will be investing in enhanced placemaking for the Gastown pilot.

“The whole ABC team is looking forward to the start of this pilot,” continued Meiszner. “By supporting patio expansions, removing barriers for businesses, installing quality street furniture, and creating fun public space activations, we are confident that this pilot program will be a success for local businesses and Vancouverites.”In an effort to support Gastown businesses throughout the pilot program, one of the measures passed by Council included a proposal from ABC Councillor Rebecca Bligh that will see the city provide a one-time grant of $20,000 to the Gastown BIA to support the BIA’s parking initiative.

“Our team is fully committed to working closely with residents, businesses, and the Gastown BIA to make the Water Street Pilot a success,” said Bligh. “This pilot program is a City-led initiative, it’s important that we continue to listen to stakeholders and implement feedback as needed to ensure this car-free activation benefits the neighbourhood as a whole.”

In 2022, ABC Vancouver committed to enhancing neighbourhoods through expanded patios, more pedestrian plazas, and active streets. The upcoming Water Street Pilot Program is just the latest in a long list of ABC accomplishments in delivering a more vibrant city.

“Gastown is just the beginning – we’re going to see renewed and revitalized neighbourhoods across our city,” concluded Kirby-Yung “More pedestrian-focused spaces, more celebration of arts and culture, and more opportunities for businesses to flourish – that’s what we’re committed to delivering.”

Work to upgrade Water Street and Maple Tree Square is well underway and will be completed prior to the pilot program’s launch in July of this year.

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MEDIA CONTACT:

Christy Thompson

Executive Director, ABC Vancouver

christy.thompson@abcvancouver.ca






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