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Vancouver city councillor wants streets to be more people-friendly during COVID-19 crisis

Last Updated Apr 22, 2020 at 12:40 pm PDT

FILE - Downtown Vancouver is seen here from the NEWS 1130 Air Patrol in November of 2019. (Riley Phillips for NEWS 1130)

City councillor pushes for full or partial road closures to help social distancing

Coun. Lisa Dominato says it's challenging for people to spend time outdoors as they worry about breaking safety orders

Dominato points out many people in Vancouver rent and don't have access to their own yards

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Full or partial road closures are being recommended as a way to open up more space for social distancing purposes in Vancouver — especially in places where crowds continue to gather.

“We’ve seen in Vancouver with the closure of the Stanley Park roadway and beach being pared down to one lane and so, I think that we should be taking a closer look at how we might do that a little bit more across the city — particularly in areas where people have less access to park space or private green space,” she says.

RELATED: Stanley Park going car-free to encourage physical distancing

Other cities are already testing out road closures, Dominato says, including London in the United Kingdom and Calgary, Alberta.

She says she hopes improvements can be made soon because restrictions linked to the pandemic will likely continue well into the summer.

“We’re going to see people wanting to take advantage of that better weather, so what can we do as a city to support that and I think one way is looking at more road closures on weekends, near parks and that where residents take more ownership of some of those neighbourhood streets.”

She adds many trying to, respectfully, spend more time outside are already experiencing high-stress levels.

“Are there some areas where it’s higher density? Could we open up some shared space for motorists, but also for people who are cycling, walking pedestrians or just simply in some cases, maybe on weekends like they’re doing in Calgary, they’re trialling closing down some streets.”

Dominato tells NEWS 1130 she’s already asked city staff to look into how some temporary improvements can be made quickly because half the people living in Vancouver are renters and many don’t have their own backyard or access to private green spaces.

She also says this experiment could be a lesson on how to re-think urban planning to ensure space is better shared as the city continues to densify.