During our engagement activities in 2015, the Re-Imagine Downtown Vancouver team asked a diverse group of people to provide ideas on how they wanted downtown Vancouver to evolve over the next twenty-five years. We received suggestions from over 1,000 individuals.
This is how they imagine the places of downtown Vancouver in 2040:
- Downtown Vancouver is recognized as an “architectural leader” featuring a mix of heritage and modern buildings. Our distinctive skyline is internationally renowned as “colourful” and “conversation worthy.”
- Downtown Vancouver is home to a connected series of “activated alleyways.” Our laneways are no longer dead zones, but welcoming spaces with lots of “hidden gems” to discover, including galleries, restaurants, and “art walls” where graffiti and visual storytelling are welcomed.
- Downtown Vancouver has multiple majestic new gateways to the city, similar to Paris or London (where West Pender/Georgia/Nicola/Cardero intersect, and just off the Burrard and Granville Street bridges). These gateways would offer Vancouverites and our visitors a grand entry into and out of the city.
- Downtown Vancouver is “rain-proofed” to enrich public life year-round. Storefronts and lobbies boast a variety of retractable awnings that provide protection from the elements. These awnings include technological features that allow us to harvest rainwater to irrigate local parks and greenways.
- Building on our stunning West Coast natural environment, downtown Vancouver features a network of ecologically vibrant greenspaces, including rooftop and vertical gardens, street trees, public parklets, and play areas for children. These places enhance our communities, give us spaces to meet friends, and liven up the streetscape.
- Downtown Vancouver finally has a prominent public square for large public gatherings and events. The public square is connected though greenways to several smaller squares and plazas that encourage people to relax and interact, and feature a mixture of public performance stages for buskers and street artists.
- Downtown Vancouver has an enhanced heritage preservation program through comprehensive regulations. We celebrate our architectural history in creative ways, including interactive point of interest displays and unique “up-lighting” of heritage buildings.
- Downtown Vancouver is home to a variety of buildings with publically accessible rooftops. These rooftops offer a mix of productive space, urban oases and exciting entertainment. They will feature a variety uses, including urban farms and community gardens, restaurants, nightclubs, and an outdoor cinema.
- Downtown Vancouver has instituted a free streetcar system, allowing people to travel throughout the downtown peninsula.
To enable it to operate as a 24/7 city, all major transit services to and from downtown Vancouver operate 24 hours a day.
- Building on the early success of its bike lanes, downtown Vancouver offers integrated cycling infrastructure throughout downtown, including a comprehensive grid of bike lanes, secure bike parking and public cycling facilities in its mixed-use towers.
- The focus on multi-modal mobility and technological advances have decreased the number of cars entering downtown Vancouver, decreasing air and noise pollution, as well as the number of accidents.
- Rather than hide rain underground, downtown Vancouver celebrates its connection to water with water-activated sculptures, rain gardens, and rain-activated paintings. Urban waterscapes are introduced to help to manage our rainwater. Wouldn’t a canal—filled with rainwater—be a beautiful place to walk, sit, or read by on your downtown lunch hour?
The strength of downtown goes beyond just the buildings and architecture. It comes from the people who live here, work here and shop here. The downtown experience should be positive and inclusive for everyone – regardless of age, ethnicity, income, ability, or gender identity.
The ideas generated through Re-Imagine Downtown Vancouver reflect a desire for an innovative and holistic approach to the evolution of downtown Vancouver. We don’t own these ideas; they belong to the people that dreamed them.
Achieving this collective vision will require a collaborative approach between the Downtown Vancouver BIA, its members, the City of Vancouver, and other partner organizations. It will need visionary leaders within our community to steer the development of ideas that resonate for them. We look forward to working together to embrace this vision and make the ideas listed in this report a reality. Because, if we don’t determine how downtown Vancouver grows up, others will determine it for us.