Vehicle traffic will return to the 800 block of Robson Street this Saturday (December 1), followed by bus service to the downtown stretch on December 3.
The opening of the block that has been pedestrian-only since the summer follows a unanimous Vancouver city council vote on the issue Wednesday (November 28).
Council directed staff to reopen the street on December 1 and to prepare for a seasonal closure during the summer of 2013. They also called for staff to report back by July 2013 on the potential of turning the block into a permanent public plaza.
A survey conducted by the city this fall found that 64 percent of respondents indicated they want the 800 block of Robson to function as a permanent public space, while 17 percent preferred a summertime public space, and 19 percent wanted to see only occasional closures of the street to traffic for special events.
But city staff have indicated they need more time to address issues identified during public consultations, such as concerns about the re-routing of the No. 5 bus raised by seniors and other residents in the West End.
City council heard from a series of speakers before voting Wednesday to reopen the block to vehicles December 1. Heather Forbes of the Vancouver Public Space Network spoke in opposition to the road reopening to traffic, calling reverting to car usage until the summer a “flip-flop” that would frustrate users.
Others, such as the executive directors of the West End Business Improvement Association and the Downtown Business Improvement Association, spoke in support of temporary, seasonal closures of the block.
Vancouver transportation director Jerry Dobrovolny told the Straight in an earlier interview that the No. 5 bus route is being reviewed as part of a broader study of the downtown transit network.