Gastown Tomorrow – Gastown

The Gastown Business Improvement Society has released an Urban Design Study to understand how public realm changes may affect Gastown business members, workers, residents and visitors. a report can help shape the BIA’s advocacy position to the City of Vancouver. This is only the start, but we need your help.

Download the report here or scroll down to explore the action plan and participate by sharing your ideas. 

The Pandemic has brought about a tremendous amount of change and in times like these it’s most important to come together and use this opportunity to help shape a community we all want to see. The City of Vancouver is actively responding with new policies and regulations and we want to make sure we’re ready to create the Gastown of Tomorrow.

In order to do this, we need your help – we’re encouraging all members of the public realm to take the survey below to further outline opportunities and ideas that contribute social, economic and cultural changes in our community. To take the survey, share your thoughts and feedback, please visit our online questionnaire here.

The study discusses five key interventions that will help guide future decision making within the public realm. From increasing equity and inclusion, redistributing street space, preserving and enhancing place and recognizing the layered legacy of Gastown.

If Maple Tree Square could change from a car to a people-centric space, what activities would you like to see?


What would you like to see mark the gateway to Gastown at the top of Water and Cordova street?

How could the streets and alleyways be designed differently for a more enjoyable journey to your destination?

What are your favourite characteristics of Blood Alley and how would this come to life during the day or night?

What suggestions do you have to improve the way you interact with storefronts along Water Street?

Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions and contributing your ideas. This type of engagement will help guide future decision-making in Gastown.

This study was conducted by ph5 architecture, who have a studio in Gastown and are active advocates and members of the community. Their approach to develop the Urban Design Study included a workshop designed to orchestrate focused discussions, identify synergies, and consider urban design responses to public realm opportunities and challenges. The process functioned to not only collected data but to also observe and consider the qualitative nature of the neighbourhood and its guests. 

Below are some of the findings and themes explored in building out this Urban Design Study.The workshop covered three core themes: pedestrian priority (streets/ car light), active lanes, pedestrian networks, and places of gathering. This group explored and identified various scenarios to strengthen the public realm. 

The group explored scenarios that redefine the street to reduce the area dedicated to vehicular traffic and improve the public realm. 

Approximately 22% of the open public space in Gastown is comprised of lanes. The group was asked to explore scenarios that create gathering spaces, expand uses in lane and link lanes to a finer grained pedestrian network.

The group identified scenarios to strengthen the pedestrian network within Gastown and to the surrounding city, and to identify opportunities for permanent and/or temporary gathering spaces for informal activities, small gathering and large events.

Concepts we’re also explored that require further investigation. These include;

  • Character of Cordova Street 
  • Effect of traffic changes on the surrounding context 
  • Required infrastructure to facilitate temporary street closures and events 
  • Peripheral Areas 
  • Heritage Strategy 
  • POPS, Patios, and Public Space 

Acknowledgements

The DTES is home to a strong community of First Nations people, organizations, and businesses. The opinions, needs, and values of the First Nations community is not specifically present in previous reports, heritage commemoration, or public engagement processes regarding the future planning of the neighbourhood. 

We understand and support that the City of Vancouver is working towards a FirstNations-specific consultation process for Gastown Complete Streets projects. It will take time for the City of Vancouver and Gastown BIA to build the required relationships. Without these in place, we should consider how to allow room for reconciliation so that First Nations and other under-recognized people can be present in the public realm.

Concepts we’re also explored that require further investigation. These include;

  • Character of Cordova Street 
  • Effect of traffic changes on the surrounding context 
  • Required infrastructure to facilitate temporary street closures and events 
  • Peripheral Areas 
  • Heritage Strategy 
  • POPS, Patios, and Public Space 

Acknowledgements

The DTES is home to a strong community of First Nations people, organizations, and businesses. The opinions, needs, and values of the First Nations community is not specifically present in previous reports, heritage commemoration, or public engagement processes regarding the future planning of the neighbourhood. 

We understand and support that the City of Vancouver is working towards a FirstNations-specific consultation process for Gastown Complete Streets projects. It will take time for the City of Vancouver and Gastown BIA to build the required relationships. Without these in place, we should consider how to allow room for reconciliation so that First Nations and other under-recognized people can be present in the public realm.

 

The Urban Design Study uncovered some interesting information that we encourage you to explore in more detail. 

Gastown has a very small footprint compared to other neighbourhoods.

The majority of vehicle traffic is commuter traffic and 40% of the public realm is used for vehicular traffic on Water and Cordova Street.

There are no green spaces in the Gastown BIA and Crab Park isn’t very accessible for some.

These 6 places have been identified to define Gastown’s characters.

There are 2189 parking spots in Gastown and 88% of visitors to Gastown arrive by public transport, walking or biking.

All of Gastown was designated as a National Historic Site in 2009.

Thank you for learning more about the Gastown Urban Design Study. We encourage everyone to participate in the survey HERE to share your thoughts, feedback and recommendations for the future of Gastown.

To join the conversation on social media follow @mygastown & #GastownTomorrow. For recommendations on how to amplify, you can view and download our social media toolkit here.