The City’s Green Team was out shovelling dirt on Robson Street:
“Urban Pasture” is another trial project in amenity-making, this time in the parking lane on the south side of the 1000-block Robson – just in front of the Cafe Crepe where the sidewalk narrows. (Decades ago, the City required six-foot setbacks for any new construction, the intent being to widen the street for another traffic lane to handle vehicle growth. That ain’t gonna happen – but the setback remains so that now the sidewalks can be widened for pedestrians. This is one of the remaining choke points.)
Similar to Parallel Park off Main Street, Urban Pasture will provide a small seating space and landscaping. It isn’t even finished, and already people are filling the seats.
But there are two other aspects of note: first, this structure is in what was once the rush-hour lane, where the parking was stripped during the morning peak. Except there was no rush. And without much notice, the City dropped the rush-hour requirement on this side of Robson. Another example of how road space can be reclaimed as traffic volumes drop.
Secondly, Cafe Crepe was an enthusiastic partner, even though it would lose the parking immediately out front. The manager, with experience in Montreal, immediately understood the benefits. The Business Improvement Association – not so much. Indeed, when I was on Council, the idea of ending the rush-hour parking prohibition was out of the question, regardless of the benefits that could accrue to merchants.
Urban Pasture is another sign of how things have changed.