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

By VPSN

April 22, 2022 at 1:15 PM

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Engagement Opportunity: Vancouver Plan public space policies (deadline extended – April 27)

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Concept of a future open space - with restored natural systems, playground, and food garden.

Concept of a future open space - with restored natural systems, playground, and food garden.

UPDATE: The survey on the draft Vancouver Plan has been extended.

Earlier this month, the City of Vancouver released the draft Vancouver Plan – a long-range strategy to guide how the city will grow and change in the coming decades. A public engagement process is currently underway – and will be winding up this coming Sunday, April 24. Wednesday, April 27.

The draft Plan includes a land use strategy, approaches to different types of neighbourhood, and several policy chapters covering different topics – like housing, transportation, urban design and more.

There’s lots to say on the Plan in general, but for those of you interested in public space issues there are a number of items that you’ll want to take a look at. We’ve included some of the main proposed public space policies here.

If you have any thoughts on the directions outlined in the draft plan, please take the survey and provide your feedback. (Hint: you can select the topics you want to provide input on, so you don’t need to do the whole survey to provide feedback).

This post includes excerpts from the following three key chapters:

  1. Public space
  2. Community Infrastructure (e.g. libraries and community centres)
  3. Transportation, including the proposed expansion of the Greenways network

If you’re really keen, just note that there are actually a lot of areas in the draft Plan that touch on public space, including chapters on: complete neighbourhoods (ensuring that each neighbourhood has a local network of public spaces); urban design (placemaking at various scales); economy (commercial high streets as public spaces); arts, culture and heritage (public art, cultural placemaking); climate; watersheds; and ecology (bringing more nature into the city); and food systems (urban agriculture and community gardens).

Each policy chapter starts with a vision statement, provides some background information, and then includes a series of key high level policy directions. There are also a series of further policies under each of these directions.

Public Space Policies 

Vision: Vancouver’s public space network is welcoming, inclusive and resilient.

Vancouver’s plazas, parks, streets, paths, and beaches make the city a vibrant place to live. These outdoor public spaces are where we gather, explore and connect. But, as Vancouver continues to grow, demands on our public space network will also increase. Public space must accommodate many different, sometimes competing uses – with limited space and resources. To stretch public dollars as far as we can, we will need to be innovative and strategic in how public space is delivered.

The Vancouver Plan has six main policy directions for public space:

  1. Support xʷməθkʷəy̓ əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations to take a leading role in shaping public spaces.
  2. Promote an inclusive public life, by prioritizing underserved areas and equity-denied communities.
  3. Grow and protect the public space network, to provide ample, high quality public spaces and robust connections across all neighbourhoods.
  4. Create universally accessible and safe public spaces that are dignified and comfortably accommodate all people, throughout the day and across all seasons.
  5. Ensure the public space network supports the city’s social and ecological resilience
  6. Build and invest in community partnerships, fostering broader participation and social connection, and promoting resilient, community-led stewardship of public spaces.

To read more about these directions, and the specific policies proposed for each click here.

Entrance way to Vancouver Public Library nə́c̓aʔmat ct Strathcona branch.

Community Infrastructure

Vision: Vancouver’s community infrastructure meets the needs of all residents. It is resilient, equitably distributed and responsive to population growth and changing needs.

Community infrastructure plays an essential role in the lives of Vancouver residents, providing access to the activities, services and supports people need to stay healthy, engaged and connected throughout life. Some community services are operated and delivered by the City, such as libraries and community centres. Other services, are delivered by non-profit and community partners. Over the next 30 years, community facilities will need to respond to a growing, diverse and changing population. Upgrades and investments are necessary to keep pace with population growth and to ensure equitable access.

The Vancouver Plan focuses on two types of community infrastructure:

  • City-delivered community infrastructure: the Vancouver Public Library, community centres and recreational facilities (in partnership with Community Centre Associations); and
  • Non-profit operated and City-supported community infrastructure: (for example) Social-serving organizations including neighbourhood houses, family places, youth, seniors’ and social service centres

The Vancouver Plan has five main policy directions for community infrastructure:

  1. Deliver and support community-serving spaces across all neighbourhoods to meet population growth and changing needs, prioritizing underserved communities.
  2. Maintain and enhance access to library spaces that are welcoming and enable residents to engage with information, ideas, and each other.
  3. Ensure community centres and recreational services continue meeting the needs of all communities.
  4. Enable more social and community uses through co-location, shared spaces and use of underused or vacant spaces.
  5. Expand the range of public washrooms for all residents and ensure access for people who currently experience barriers to water and washrooms as a human right.

To read more about these directions, and the specific policies proposed for each click here.

Transportation

Vision: Vancouver’s transportation system connects people to jobs and daily needs in an equitable way, prioritizing low-cost, healthy ways of getting around, while supporting a strong economy.

Transportation plays a vital role in supporting a thriving city and region, connecting us to people and places, influencing our quality of life, the environment and the economy. The City has long prioritized affordable, healthy and low carbon ways to get around; however, many people continue to face travel barriers.

More neighbourhoods need shops and services closer to home, with safe and comfortable streets and greenways, and better access to frequent transit. We also a need to better serve diverse community needs and address inequities in service provision, safety, universal accessibility, greenery and dignified travel.

The Vancouver Plan has three main policy directions for transportation:

  1. Enable safe and comfortable walking, biking and transit through land use and urban design.
  2. Create people first streets by transforming road space to support population growth and the changing needs of residents and businesses.
  3. Accelerate planning for an equitable and sustainable transportation future for people and goods.

To read more about these directions, and the specific policies proposed for each click here.

Proposed expansion of city-wide Greenways network.

Greenways

Greenways are high quality active transportation, recreation & public space corridors that support walking, biking and rolling for people of all ages and abilities and identities. They form a city-wide network across the City’s diverse neighbourhoods and provide access to key destinations such as parks, schools and community spaces. They also provide opportunities for reconciliation, community building and stewardship, improved natural systems and public life.

The City is currently undertaking a “greenways refresh” process to renew planning for these important spaces. As part of this work, two key directions are being explored:

  1. Transitioning greenways from car-lite to car-free corridors in order to increase opportunities for public space uses (e.g. plazas, parklets, safer spaces for walking/rolling and biking)
  2. Expanding the network, so that all residents live within a 5min walk of a Greenway
  3. To read more about these directions and the specific policies proposed for each click here.

To read more about these directions, and the specific policies proposed for each click here.

* * * * *

As noted, there’s lots in the Vancouver Plan related to public space… and even more on other city-building and urban planning topics. If you’ve got an opinion on these directions, please take a moment to fill out the City’s survey. (Deadline April 24, 2022).

All maps and images: City of Vancouver Vancouver Plan website – https://vancouverplan.ca

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