Today an important announcement was made about the future of the 800 block of Robson Street. Mayor Gregor Robertson announced that the street will remain closed to cars until the end of the year. This is an important first step in creating a real square in the heart of the city.
Here is the official press release from the Mayor:
The 800 block of Robson Street, between Hornby and Howe, will remain closed to vehicles until the end of the year following another very successful summer as a popular pedestrian plaza.
City staff will continue to discuss a permanent closure of the block with key stakeholders, including the DVBIA and TransLink, before reporting to Council later this fall on a permanent closure.
“For the past two summers, and during the Olympics, this block of Robson has proven to be a hub of activity,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson. “It’s been a very popular destination for people to enjoy music, impromptu performances, creative types of outdoor seating and a place to relax and enjoy our downtown.”
“We have an opportunity to create an important new public plaza in the centre of the Downtown and have a timely opportunity to consider this option.”
The recently installed Pop Rocks seating, part of the VIVA Vancouver summer streets program, will remain in place in the 800 block of Robson through September or as weather permits.
Over the past two summers, VIVA Vancouver has helped bring liveliness and fun to Robson, Granville and other locations around the city with pop-up parks, creative seating installations and local arts and culture activities.
VIVA Vancouver has facilitated the closure of Granville St., between Smithe and Hastings, to create a pedestrian and event corridor featuring special sports and dancing activities, displays, music and places for locals and visitors to relax and enjoy the surroundings.
In December 2010, Vancouver City Council directed staff to examine the creation of a public square in the 800 block of Robson St.
The street is currently home to “Pop Rocks” or as many call them the giant pillows on Robson. The real test of the square will be in the fall and winter months when rain will dominate the Vancouver weather forecast. Pehaps they’ll bring back the giant clamshell proposal.
The giant clamshell concept was floated around before the 2010 Olympics, however, it was ultimately panned. If you ask me, an idea of a giant roof over the square makes perfect sense. A glass roof would be perfect year round. In the summer it will let the sunshine in and during the rest of the year it would keep the rain out. In Vancouver there should be more covered spaces, this would encourage people to get out of their shoe box condos and enjoy the public realm year round.
The next they need to do is get rid of that mound/elevated secluded park at the corner south east of Robson and Hornby. It’s elevated from street level and seldom used. The large mound takes away from a vital corner. That somehow needs to be opened up.
Hopefully this is is the start of a true public square. A little bit of a redesign is also in order.