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Vancouver to create 50 kilometres of 'slow streets' in support of pandemic recovery

FILE - A couple sits on restaurant's patio on Granville Street in Vancouver, Wednesday, May 20, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
Summary

Vancouver will repurpose 50 kilometres of road space to support recovery efforts

A stretch of 12 kilometres has already been installed

Council is also considering a motion that would ask staff to accelerate the repurposing of road space in neighbourhoods

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — The City of Vancouver is introducing “slow streets” and speeding up plans to allow more outdoor patios during the pandemic.

Vancouver will repurpose 50 kilometres of road space to support recovery efforts. A stretch of 12 kilometres has already been installed.

“We know that physical distancing will be in place for some time,” Lon LaClaire, general manager of engineering services, says in a release.

“As we move through the pandemic and into a phased recovery, more space will be needed to ensure people can safely do the things they need to do like exercising and travelling to work. We also want to help people return to some of the things they really enjoy doing, like eating at a favourite restaurant, picking up items from local businesses or connecting with friends outdoors. We will work closely with businesses and community partners to address needs for space while also ensuring our streets and public spaces remain safe and accessible.”

The plan includes providing guidelines, by June 1, to expedite the permitting process for outdoor patios.

RELATED: Patio season about to get bigger as B.C. allows temporary expansion

Council is also considering a motion that would ask staff to accelerate the repurposing of road space in neighbourhoods across the city to give people more room.

That includes repurposing parking space and travel lanes on arterial roads to support physical distancing and travel connections.

The city did the same on Beach Avenue in the West End to complement the closure of Stanley Park to vehicles.

The city would also turn select residential streets into “slow streets” by allowing local traffic only, which creates space for foot and bicycle traffic.

It would widen sidewalks, as well, for queuing at businesses by repurposing curb lanes. That would provide space for people to line up while giving pedestrians room to pass by safely, says the city.

Vancouver could also create short-term loading or pick-up zones near businesses with high turnover and increased curbside needs.

City staff will also work with businesses and residents to understand and respond to needs for additional public space.

The city says it has piloted innovative public spaces like parklets, public plazas, and curbside patios over the last several years.

“This initiative will build on those successful spaces to support the community to enable physical distancing during the pandemic recovery phase.”