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.


  1. I’m very happy to see this happen in the West End! Kudos to all involved. I hope it serves as a useful trial that can be repliaed elsewhere in the West End and perhaps Commercial Drive, to cite but two good candidate areas that come to mind.

    Lance Berelowitz and I consulted to the West End BIA last year in a design charrette, and one of the key ideas that came forward was reclaiming parts of stripped parking areas on Robson, Davie and Denman for such social uses, as well as restoring on-street parking during peak periods, all of which helps to promote more access, business vitality and buffers the sidewalk realam from moving traffic.

    In recent yeras, business activity on Robson Street and other West End shopping streets have not been as strong as they could or should be, and helping to make these streets edgier and more inviting can help to restore some of the lost magic.

  2. Fantastic! Everyone will love it I’m sure, it’s these kind of surprises that make cities memorable.

    I saw Marnie McGregor’s presentation on VIVA Vancouver projects at the end of June at the Velo-City Global Conference. It was great- but I don’t remember her bringing this one up (perhaps because it doesn’t feature bikes directly).

    Here’s another VIVA example in Mount Pleasant:

    I agree with Frank that these kinds of installations would be great on Commercial Drive. Unless of course the City’s planning on putting in a separated bike lane:

    Thanks for the head’s up Gordan.

  3. It makes me think of all the extra patio seating that Halifax created in front of their restaurants and pubs. It’s a great idea. I’m surprised they did it on Robson Street, but if traffic volumes really are down, then cars won’t really care. Awesome move.

  4. If you’ve ever tried to walk past Cafe Crepe it’s a bottleneck of “congestion” on the sidewalk because it’s in a heritage building that does not have the same wide setback that newer buildings have – and on top of that, there’s a service window that creates a line-up on the sidewalk, further blocking it.

    Cafe Crepe is really just being a good neighbour in supporting the project.

    So, in traffic parlance, the wider sidewalk is adding capacity….that will, of course, be gobbled up as soon as it’s opened…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *