Honk if you love car-free public spaces.
Water Street is set to become a pedestrian zone for July and August 2024, the City of Vancouver has announced. The move is a pilot—because of course it is—aiming to boost businesses in Gastown.
“We’re committed to revitalizing Gastown and taking bold steps to make this iconic neighbourhood a people-friendly, safe and clean destination,” says Mayor Ken Sim in a statement. “Transforming Water Street into an activated pedestrian zone this summer presents an exciting opportunity to showcase the vibrant businesses and attractions that Gastown has to offer.”
During the two-month period, parts of Water Street will be closed to cars to make room for expanded patios and public seating, greenery planters, as well as larger merchandise displays, art installations, and special events. If you enjoyed the bigger patios and outdoor areas that came from COVID restrictions, this will probably be right up your alley.
The pedestrian-priority pilot for Gastown has been approved! Excited to see Water Street transform this July and August with new patios, seating areas, planters and activations. Big kudos to everyone involved in making this long-awaited project a reality. #vanpoli pic.twitter.com/sx3eyP9uDF— Peter Meiszner (@PeterMeiszner) February 7, 2024
Car-free blocks will be between Richards and Cambie, as well as the area immediately around Maple Tree Square (Carrall and Water, the former site of the Gassy Jack statue). Water Street between Cambie and Carrall is mysteriously being referred to as “car-light blocks,” per a graphic that Councillor Peter Meiszner shared on X.
Cycling and other forms of active transit will still be allowed in the area.
The pilot is the first initiative borne from the Gastown Public Spaces Plan. Staff will report back on the project’s outcomes in 2024, because “pedestrians like it when there are fewer cars around” is something that Vancouver clearly can’t ascertain without several years of pondering.