Advocacy, education and outreach in support of Vancouver's public spaces

By vancouverpublicspace

August 15, 2011 at 11:51 AM

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Robson Community Market a grand success

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A quick thank you to everyone who stopped by yesterday’s community market at the 800-block of Robson Street. Despite murmurings to the contrary, the weather turned out to be awesome — a perfect backdrop for the 30+ local vendors and dj who set up shop, and the many many visitors that took in the fun.

This was the first of our VPSN experiments with the space — all designed to see how the 800-block could function were the street to be remain closed to vehicular traffic. On that note, we’re pleased to report that the 800-block worked extraordinarily well as a market area. The surrounding architecture – the neoclassical finesse of the Art Gallery and the modernist trappings of Arthur Erickson’s Law Courts — created an all-important human-scale. This, in turn, allowed the market to enhance the ‘feel’ of the space, rather than appearing at odds with it. Add to that the high volume of pedestrian traffic (the 800-block is one of the city’s busiest pedestrian thoroughfares) and the fit worked quite well. As one visitor from Italy noted: “it’s lively, like one of our piazzas.” Fantastico!

And talk about complimentary activities — the excellent Picnurbia installation (a rolling picnic “beach” located on the east end of the block) – provided a great resting area for people once they’d taken in all the local arts and crafts on display. If you haven’t yet checked it out, have a peek.

The VPSN would like to thank our collaborators: Blim ( for their hard work assembling vendors and handling so many of the logistics, as well as the City of Vancouver’s “Viva Vancouver” program – which supported the endeavor.

Finally, as a number of you have noted, the trolley wires were reinstalled through the 800-block. We are sad to report that, despite our efforts to the contrary (and despite being closed for two years), it seems the plan is to re-open Robson Street to vehicles sometime around Labour Day. We’re not yet clear on whether the plan is for buses only, or buses and cars. Either way, it’s unfortunate. As yesterday’s market – as well as the Picnurbia installation – continue to show, this small segment of Robson is one of the best spots in the City for a pedestrian-only gathering space.

For that reason, in addition to doing a number of research studies (timing, vendor studies, and pedestrian counts) as part of yesterday’s market, the VPSN crew was also on hand to gather signatures for a petition to keep the space free of vehicular traffic. If you’d like to add your voice to the list, please follow this link or send us an email noting your support. You can reach us at robsonsquare [at] To make it official, we’ll need your full name and address — just as if you were signing a petition on the street. Please consider joining on — and with any luck we can still turn this one around.

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