Robson Square closed to cars until 2013

Robson Square

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.

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  • Devils Advocate

    Insanity! We have a true public square on the Georgia side of the gallery which is also bathed in sunlight and is in desperate need of renovation; especially after the useless Occupy movement destroyed it. We don’t need to close off a vital artery which links two sides of downtown and is a major transit corridor. The temporary routing of the #5 Robson makes no sense and has been a detriment to the disabled, seniors and the many others dependant on the bus. Remember there is still a plan in the works to possibly turn the gallery into a performing arts centre PLUS millions were just spent redoing that stretch of Robson. It doesn’t make sense to throw that money away and redo it again. 

  • timvvv

    “The next they need to do is get rid of that mound”…

    Not going to happen…they just spent a stack of $$ on redoing that area, including the mound.

  • Dale

    I agree the Georgia side needs work. Especially the stupid wood chips. Pave that shit already Gregor!

  • Gardiner Hanson

    Agreed…The georgia side of the art gallery needs a paving badly. And poof! There’s your proper downtown square.

  • Nathan Brophy

    I like that they have that section closed down, I even think they should do it permanently. Driving on Robson is impossible as it is anyways because of rubberneckers and people showing off in their cars and motorbikes.
    Santa Monica does very well with their 3rd Street Promenade and I think Vancouver could be just as successful.

  • Bob

    Georgia Street will never be a proper town square. All foot traffic goes down Robson. Putting the square there is a perfect idea.

  • citygirl

    Great idea! For the naysayers….travel the world and see how much better city life is without cars and more pedestrians and bicycles. Walking and biking =  healthier people and less pollution.

  • Mainlander

    Especially when it’s pouring rain and I’m doing 2 weeks worth of grocery shopping. Hippie BS.

  • Derekstar23

    Gregor Robinson is an idiot, if it was up to him the whole city would be a bike lane, yes lets clog traffic up even more and create more air pollution…i love Vancouver but the way this city was designed with no freeways and bike lanes everywhere is ridiculous

  • Save Vancouver

    Another party venue for Gregor!!  EVERY street in this city needs to be kept open to accommodate the increasingly impossible traffic congestion because Gregor and his pals let anybody who slips a few bob into their election coffers build anything anywhere – and the roads and public transit already can’t handle it.  The closure of this block just creates more traffic congestion and screws up public transit (notably the No 5 bus) even more!  Thanks for another one of your mindless party-party decisions, Gregor. 

  • Gardiner Hanson

    Good point! Both sides couldn’t hurt though. My thoughts about paving Georgia side is mainly due from hating to see all that scabby grass that grows over there. All in all, something dramatic should be done there to make it a more vibrant place!