Gastown is an important heritage district and destination in Vancouver. While many of the streets and spaces in our neighbourhood are in need of repair and rehabilitation, The City of Vancouver (COV), along with the Gastown Business Improvement Society (GBIS), is looking for ways to improve the streets, laneways, and public spaces to support a vibrant Gastown.

Together we are advocating for solutions that benefit Gastown’s businesses, property owners, residents, and visitors alike.

Here’s a snapshot of our current journey to revitalize Gastown, the key milestones, our progress, and what lies ahead:

The Journey:

April – June 2022: Capital Plan Commitment

  • City Council announces the 2023-2026 Capital Plan, approving $10 million in funds for infrastructure upgrades in Gastown, along with a commitment to finding an additional $25 million to support the necessary work in the neighbourhood.
  • This was following additional advocacy work done by the GBIS through the Gastown Urban Design Study and Gastown Tomorrow Project completed in collaboration with ph5 architecture.

Fall 2022 – Spring 2023: Advocating for Comprehensive Planning

  • GBIS challenges plans for asphalt repair on Water Street.
  • GBIS advocates for a comprehensive Public Realm Plan to be completed by external experts.

January 2023 – Present: Capital Plan in Action

  • Over 30 sidewalk repairs are completed.
  • Bollards and light posts are repainted.
  • Water Street repairs in front of The Local/Maple Tree Square to be completed in 2024 (see below).
  • Trounce/Blood Alley restoration in 2025 (see below).
  • Indigenous-led redesign of Maple Tree Square (Date TBD)

Note: This is the first time that Capital Plan funds for Gastown are being spent in over a decade.

Spring 2023: Shaping the Vision

  • GBIS collaborates with Councillor Sarah Kirby-Yung on a motion to repair Water Street using legacy materials and for the creation of an RFP to hire experts to develop the Gastown Public Spaces Plan.

May 2023: Bold Vision in Motion

  • The motion is passed and COV staff are directed to work in collaboration with the GBIS to develop a bold vision for Gastown’s streets and public spaces.

October 2023: Gastown Public Spaces Plan Launch

  • Engagement process begins for a people-focused Gastown.
  • Pilots for various versions of pedestrianization on Water Street are proposed for summer 2024, along with the exploration of the following:
  • An improved street network to support walking, cycling, transit, and vehicle connections, and consideration of Cordova as a 2-way street.
  • Reconciliation with xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and the səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations to support their presence on their lands.
  • – Enhancements to the heritage feel with improved street materials and amenities.
  • Phased project timing and funding identification.

November 2023: Gastown Public Space Project RFP

  • A two-year process with multiple engagement points released by the COV.
  • The plan will examine transportation, public realm, sidewalks, materials, green space, amenities, sanitation, and economic impact of a car-free Water Street.
  • Final plan to be presented in 2025.

February 7 2024: City Council passes a motion to make Gastown car-free during the summer 2024.

  • Following Council direction, the City will temporarily turn parts of Water Street into a pedestrian zone this coming July and August. Learn more here.
  • This is in addition to the upcoming road repairs/street closures happening at Maple Tree Square this spring (see below timeline).

Coming Soon:

Spring/Summer 2024: Water Street Construction

  • Water Street repairs to take place, with closures from Alexander/Powell/Water to Abbott Street.
  • Approximate duration for construction from March 4 – June 14, 2024.
  • COV is developing a circulation plan for effective delivery, resident, and business access.

Summer 2024: Pilot Project Unveiling

  • COV, in collaboration with the GBIS, is developing a Pilot Project to test closing Water Street, including options that are car-light, car-free or no-change approach.
  • Lessons from the Pilot will guide the recommendations presented in the Gastown Public Spaces RFP.
  • Tentatively scheduled for July – Labor Day 2024.

Fall 2024 – Summer 2025: Community Input

  • Community to provide input on draft directions for pedestrianization and public space improvements.

Winter/Spring 2025: Alley Restoration

  • Blood/Trounce Alley restoration is scheduled for repair over several months.

Fall 2025: Finalizing the Vision 

  • Gastown Public Spaces Plan projected to be finalized and presented to Council and the community.
  • Phased implementation pending Council approval.

Feedback Wanted:

GBIS is gathering feedback and insights from members on the Pilot and Gastown Public Spaces Plan. Information shared with GBIS Membership and COV will help guide the Summer 2024 Pilot and Gastown Public Spaces Plan.

To share your thoughts, feedback or concerns, please complete the membership survey here by January 12, 2024