City staff propose that "Summer Spaces" replace car-free days in Vancouver

Vancouver city staff have  changed the name of  “car-free days” to “Summer Spaces”, and proposed four neighbourhoods where these festivals can occur this summer: Collingwood, Gastown, Mount Pleasant, and Commercial Drive

In a report to  Vancouver city council's  transportation and traffic committee, staff have also recommended an "investigation" into whether or not to allow Summer Spaces events in Marpole and along Robson Street in 2010.

The report by assistant city engineer Jerry Dobrovolny  is dated April 30, and is coming before the council committee on Tuesday (June 2).

The staff  recommendations come with a price tag for taxpayers: up to $65,000 for a monitoring and evaluation program; up to $40,000 for temporary staff resources; and up to $10,000 on a communications program.

Staff issued a call for proposals to 50 organizations to suggest events in various neighbourhoods, and received back 10 submissions from community groups.

The call for proposals outlined a preference for “recurring street openings vs. one day events or festivals”, according to the report.

Staff have recommended the following:

”¢  Open Streets-Commercial Drive: Car Free Vancouver with the support of the Commercial Drive Business Improvement Association has proposed eight recurring street openings along Commercial Drive.

”¢  Building Welcoming and Vibrant Communities through Public Gathering Spaces: Collingwood Neighbourhood House has proposed up to five open-air markets along Vanness Avenue near the Joyce SkyTrain station, which would  showcase performers, artisans, and produce from multiethnic farmers.

”¢  Gastown Farmers Market: Vancouver Farmers Market and the Gastown Business Improvement Association have proposed new farmers markets in August and September along the Carrall Street Greenway between Cordova Avenue and Maple Tree Square.

”¢  Market 1886-Our Past is Our Future: The Mount Pleasant Business Improvement Association has proposed up to six street events rotated along different sections of Main Street.

Staff rejected a proposal from the Public Dream Society, which would have closed part of Victoria Drive as part of Illuminares.

In addition, staff have also recommended that council consider the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition's proposal for a “ciclovia” from English Bay Beach Park to Jericho Beach Park at a cost of $125,000.

The ciclovia concept was pioneered in Bogata, Colombia, according to the staff report, to promote “recreation and social interaction on car-free streets”.

The VACC proposal would  run along a six-kilometre route from Beach Avenue, Pacific Street, the Burrard Bridge, Cornwall Avenue, Point Grey Road, and end at Jericho Beach Park. It would tie in with other complementary events, such as the annual Vancouver Folk Festival.

“Ideally, this initiative would be recurring, with three or four events, in order to build awareness and attract users,” the report says.

In its 2008 election platform, Vision Vancouver promised a summer trial of car-free Sundays on selected streets in 2009.

COPE has a policy to support and encourage neighbourhoods across the city to hold car-free festivals, and to create citywide car-free zones and car-free days.

Immediately after  the election, council passed a motion asking staff to report back on providing three months of car-free Sundays in three locations.

Staff returned in March with a far less ambitious plan in a report that outlined various costs associated with these events. The  staff report  also cited opposition from most business-improvement associations.

The report going to the transportation and traffic committee on Tuesday (June 2) is a followup on the earlier staff report.

Related articles:

Andrea Reimer says scaled-back car-free Sundays would still be a "win"

City of Vancouver shouldn't drive car-free days: founder

Vancouver staff outline big obstacles to three months of car-free Sundays

Vision Vancouver moves closer to breaking a promise on car-free Sundays

Business Improvement Association wary of car-free Day

Car-free streets are a success around the world (letter to the editor)