A seating installation in the 800-block of Robson Street, weekend closures of a stretch of Granville Street, and new “parklets” around the city are a few of the features of this year’s VIVA Vancouver.
Officially launched by the City of Vancouver today (June 26), the public spaces program will run from this weekend until Labour Day.
Robson Street between Howe and Hornby Streets, which will once again be closed to vehicle traffic for the summer, will be home to the “Urban Reef” seating installation.
Kaz Bremner, part of a local team of architects, designers, and carpenters who came up with the concept, said the block has always had “a certain magnetism”.
“We came down here and we were just sort of hanging out and getting a feel for what we wanted to do for this competition,” he said in an interview. “We noticed that there are a number of things that already happen here. There are food trucks, there are buskers, there are vendors, but the space didn’t facilitate those actions really, really well.
“What we wanted to do was introduce something that would be beautiful and sculptural but also help all those activities happen a little better,” he continued. “So we’ve got places to sit and eat, we’ve got places to wait for a food truck, we’ve got places, almost amphitheatre-like, to enjoy a performance, places to sit, enjoy sun and people watch. So trying to just create a reef-like armature, something we’d put in, and life would happen around it.”
The summer initiative will also include weekend closures and daytime programming on Granville Street between Smithe and Hastings streets, starting with the Vancouver International Busker Festival this weekend. Other upcoming events include Latincouver’s Carnaval del Sol on July 5 and 6.
Scott Edwards, the manager of street activities for the city, said this year there will also be an expansion of the year-round parklet program, which creates public spaces out of parking spots.
“We repurpose one or two of those, and we create it into pedestrian space, so someone can enjoy the area,” he told the Straight.
Those spaces include 1000 Robson Street, Fraser Street and 44th Avenue, Main Street and 14th Avenue, and a new spot at Main Street and 21st Avenue. Another mini park is also planned for Commercial Drive.
The VIVA Robson and Granville programs run from June 28 to September 1. This is the fourth year of the program.