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


June 30, 2017 at 3:47 PM

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VPSN Public Space News & Events | June 30, 2017 ~ Long Weekend Edition

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Summer is settling in, a time of picnics, festivals and other warm weather public space fun. There’s lots going on in the city, and the VPSN crew has been particularly busy over the last little while. In this edition of the newsletter, we’re profiling a selection of our recent placemaking, advocacy and research activities.

  • AGM & Beach BBQ – Some 3rd Beach fun for our Annual General Meeting
  • The Laneway Living Room – A Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper Approach to Activating Alleyways
  • Active Fiction – A Literary Exploration of Public Space
  • Arbutus – Guiding the Greenway
  • Northeast False Creek – A Draft Plan for a New Neighbourhood
  • Complete Streets – Reviewing the Vancouver Framework
  • Plaza Stewardship Study
  • Places for People – Share Your Ideas for Downtown Public Spaces
  • Mapping Favourite Places in False Creek South
  • A New Market on Granville Island

As always, you’ll find more neat stuff on our blog and website. And if you’re interested in helping out with these or other public space initiatives, be sure to drop us a line. We’re an all-volunteer organization and various our public space projects all come together because of you!

Note: this story has been updated to reflect date and location changes for the Annual General Meeting and Laneway Living Room events.

Placemaking Projects & Events

Annual General Meeting & Beach BBQ

It’s that time of year again! Mark your calendars for the VPSN’s summertime Beach BBQ and Annual General Meeting. As a registered non-profit, we hold this meeting to officially fulfill our obligations under the BC Societies Act. Bidness aside, we’ll be taking ample use of this opportunity to enjoy a good time in one of the City’s finest public spaces.

This year’s AGM/BBQ will be taking place on Sunday, July 23, 2017, 2pm, at – UPDATE – Beecher Park in Burnaby. For more information, check out our AGM webpage.

The Laneway Living Room – A Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper Approach to Activating Alleyways

Get ready for a cool summertime alleyway activation project! The VPSN’s Laneway Living Rooms will use a “lighter, quicker, cheaper” approach to transform two laneways this summer. Rather than relying on costly, permanent installations, we’ll be repurposing materials like milk crates, pallets and a lot of flea market finds to realize the Laneway Living Room vision.

Supported by the Viva Refresh program, these tactical activations are intended to demonstrate the potential to rapidly transform unloved laneways into people-friendly places, at low cost.

There are two events scheduled – UPDATED – Grandma’s Living Room (July 29) and Backyard BBQ (August 26). Mark your calendars and plan to join in the fun! And hey, do you have materials that would fit with these themes? Or maybe you’d like to volunteer in the building or programming of the sites? Let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

:: Read more – Inside Out: getting ready for Laneway Living Rooms

Active Fiction – A Literary Exploration of Public Space

What happens when you mashup public art, walking tours and literary fiction? Find out with the VPSN’s Active Fiction Project. We bring short fictional stories to life by setting them in neighbourhood public spaces.

The Vancouver Public Library has recently published our previous stories in ebook form, and anyone can check it out of the library. It’s a digital book, so you can do it all online. Find it here.

And, get set for more! We’re working on a new round of stories for you. Keep informed of our progress by signing up to the Active Fiction mailing list. While you’re at it, if you know of any local authors or illustrators who might be interested in working with the Active Fiction Project, please get in touch! We’re always looking for new collaborators. Find us at


Arbutus – Guiding the Greenway

Over the past months, the VPSN has been advocating enthusiastically for the design of one of Vancouver’s most exciting new public amenities. Tracing the former CP rail corridor, the Arbutus Greenway stretches 9 kilometres from Marpole almost to Granville Island. The temporary path is now fully paved, with lane markings that separate pedestrians from cyclists. Benches have been installed, and there’s a Mobi bikeshare station where the greenway intersects Broadway. Now that the temporary path is done, the City reports that it will be looking at various permanent design options over this summer, subject to public review.

We’re continuing to advocate for greenway design, including the creation of safer crossings at intersections. For more information, see our latest blog post. If you have feedback on the greenway as we advocate, feel free to get in touch with Naomi Reichstein, our Arbutus Greenway project lead, at

Northeast False Creek – A Draft Plan for a New Neighbourhood

Over Earlier this month, the City of Vancouver published a draft area plan for the development of Northeast False Creek. We’ve been excited to participate in the development of this plan through our work on various stakeholder advisory committees over the past eight years – and have worked to champion the importance of high quality public spaces as part of the new neighbourhood.

The draft plan, which is open to comment until today, June 30, is the result of not only this most recent phase of public consultation, but nearly three decades of planning work, beginning in 1990. Don’t get left out of the conversation – have your say!

:: Share your feedback – Northeast False Creek Questionnaire

Complete Streets – Reviewing the Vancouver Framework 

Among our other advocacy efforts over the past few months, the VPSN weighed in on the City’s Complete Streets Framework, when it was in front of Council back in May. Complete Streets are “designed for all ages, abilities, and modes of travel,” and where “safe and comfortable access for pedestrians, bicycles, transit users and people with disabilities is not an afterthought, but an integral planning feature.”

While the City’s framework was good, we thought three things could help to improve it: (1) a stronger emphasis on streets as places; (2) a specific focus on supporting goals of social justice – ensuring that a “complete” street is accessible and inclusive for everyone; and, (3) a more explicit reference to the support system (seating, water fountains, bathrooms, weather protection, and other amenities) that enables streets to support public life.

:: Read more – City forges a better path with Complete Streets Framework


Plaza Stewardship Study

Public spaces play a critical role in the life of our city. Represented by our parks, plazas, streets and civic buildings, public space is where we gather, celebrate, recreate and people watch. But public space doesn’t just come into being of its own accord. It is informed by programming, management, operations and maintenance activities that, when done well, helps to enable the successful activation of spaces.

These latter elements form the basis of the VPSN’s plaza ongoing stewardship study, which compares various stewardship approaches from around the world. Our goal is to consider what can be learnt from different models and how we, collectively, might improve our approach to stewardship in Vancouver. If you’re interested in finding out more or would like to share some inspiring stewardship models, please get in touch.

:: Read more – Plaza stewardship: taking care of our gathering places

Other Opportunities to Engage

VanPlay – Updating the City’s Parks and Recreation Masterplan

The Park Board is looking to update their Parks and Recreation Masterplan, and to do that, they need your help! VanPlay is a year-long fun and interactive public conversation about the future of Vancouver’s parks. The first part of the work, lasting until July 7, involves engagement activities designed to help the Park Board better understand who they are serving, what the community needs and challenges are, and any opportunities for improving the City’s network of parks, beaches and recreation spaces

The next community event takes place this comingSaturday, July 1 (noon – 4:00pm) at Sunset Community Centre, 6810 Main Street. There’s also an online questionnaire that you can complete.

:: Learn more + complete the VanPlay Questionnaire – VanPlay webpage

Places for People – Share Your Ideas for Downtown Public Spaces

The City first approved idea of a Downtown Public Realm Plan back in 2010. Now, after several years, the project is finally underway – having reborn as the “Places for People Strategy.” Those of you who have followed our own on-going research work on Downtown Public Spaces know that, regardless of the name, this is an initiative near and dear to our hearts.

With that in mind, we would encourage you to join City staff at one of the upcoming launch events for the strategy. The first one took place yesterday, and other launch events will follow a similar format with information and engagement panels, as well as other material to activate the space. Share your ideas, issues, and aspirations for public space and public life in the Downtown Vancouver. A total of three more launch events will be taking place between now and mid-July, along with other smaller pop-up activities. Later in the month, a series of walking tourswill also be held.

  • Yaletown – July 6 – 3PM-6PM in Bill Curtis Square
  • Coal Harbour – July 8 – 11AM-2PM in Coal Harbour Park
  • West End – July 13 – 3PM-6PM in Jim Deva Plaza

If you’re not able to make the events, an online survey and asset mapping tool are also available.

:: Find out more + share your ideas – Places for People webpage

Mapping Favourite Places in False Creek South

A hop, skip and an aquabus ride away, the City is embarking on new neighbourhood planning process in False Creek South. Earlier this month, City Council approved a Terms of Reference, and in the beginning of June an official launch event took place. (You can read our initial feedback here).

Now, as part of this process, the City is looking for your feedback on the places that define the assets, values, and unique qualities of the neighbourhood. They also want to hear about the places you feel could use some change. You can share your thoughts via an online mapping tool. As part of this, perhaps you’d like to share your thoughts on the public spaces in the area – Leg-in-Boot Square, Charleson Park, or the other intriguing spaces that can be found.

:: Share your favourite places – Online mapping tool
:: Read More: False Creek South neighbourhood planning process launched

Check out the New Market on Granville Island

You’ve probably heard about the exciting new Granville Island 2040 Plan, which was released just over a month ago. It features four key strategies to revitalize the Island: (1) Improving access; (2) Expanding the market; (3) Embracing arts and innovation; and, (4) Restoring the public realm. If you haven’t seen the document, you can find it here.

But hey, did you know that there’s already interesting changes afoot? Thanks to collaboration between Granville Island and our good friends at Groundswell, there’s a new summer market taking place every Tuesday on the Island. The Groundswell Community Marketplace features an exciting array of new, socially minded businesses, along with music, activities for all ages, and a central lounge where you can take in the pleasures of Granville Island. Check it out and 11 am – 4 pm on Triangle Square.


Share Your Skills with the VPSN

Want to work on cool placemaking projects, advocate for a better public realm, or research the way the city works? Why not lend a hand with the VPSN? We’re an all-volunteer organization that loves to collaborate with people like yourself. If you’d like to find out more, please contact our Volunteer Coordinator, Michelle Pollard, at


The Vancouver Public Space Network is an all volunteer, non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to protecting, enhancing and celebrating public space for the benefit of all Vancouverites. Founded in 2006, the VPSN’s work focusses on placemaking and public space events, advocacy, and research.
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