Bus and car traffic to return to downtown block of Robson Street

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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.

Comments (2) Add New Comment
J.T. Park
I think WHEN this survey of permanent closure was taken plays a big part. The city staff took this survey during the summer season, when the place looked nice, people hanging out in the evening, taking in the beautiful weather this city has to offer during summer.
Then the winter comes, and who in their right mind is hanging out in the plaza, in the rain, without any weather protection? I go by this intersection daily, as I live 2 blocks from it.
Just like the number of cyclists who uses the very expensive & controversial bike lanes through out downtown drops significantly during the wet season, I seriously wonder how many users will be frustrated in this so-called "flip-flop".
Now, the council & staff want the report in July? There's no wonder about the timing of this, when the public is hungry for more public space to enjoy the good weather. Where is that same public in the wet months? Hiding in the bars&pubs, watching hockey (when there isn't a lock-out). Certainly not in a wet plaza enjoying the rain.
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Doesn't Get It
The survey was in the wettest part of November. They also want a report on public space in February. Nice try.
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