It took awhile – but at last we figured it out: closing a street to vehicles when the sidewalks are crammed with people is a civilized (and civilizing) thing to do.

Granville strip closure curbs violence

Street closure ‘test run’ kept revellers happy, rowdies subdued


Matthew Ramsey, The Province

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


Vancouver police say shutting down a four-block stretch of Granville Street on Friday and Sunday nights transformed the booze-fuelled boulevard into a long-weekend “love-in.”


Const. Tim Fanning said the “test-run” street closure in the entertainment district and an injection of additional officers resulted in just one reported fight and one partier arrested for being drunk in public on Friday night.


Police working the strip Sunday had nothing to report.


“That’s unheard of on a long weekend,” Fanning said. “The patrons down there loved it. It was like a big love-in.”


On the average weekend, police on Granville Street deal with an influx of 25,000 young people, handle 20 street brawls, witness 70 to 100 more fights and arrest approximately 20 people for being drunk in a public place.


Bar patrons said they felt safer, sidewalks weren’t clogged with people and officers had better sight lines, meaning they could see trouble brewing before it boiled over, Fanning said.


Police found themselves posing for photographs with revellers, rather than wrestling rowdies into paddy wagons, he said.


Richard Campbell observes:


Supposedly traffic and parking are good for business but the sections with cars and parking are the sections with a lot of boarded up stores. Even the sections with 60-foot deep pits in front of them (Canada Line station construction) are doing better.


Supposedly on-street parking is supposed to create a better pedestrian environment by creating a buffer between the sidewalks and traffic. This may be the case if there is high-speed traffic, but I suspect that on streets like Granville, removing the parking and widening the sidewalks is better (of course, getting rid of all traffic is best). On street parking tends to block sightlines and make the sidewalks darker and less inviting. Large vehicles like vans and SUVs also block people’s view of the of business along the street.
The e-mail for Mayor and Council is:
Could also copy your comments to the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association (DVBIA)
Charles Gauthier, Executive Director

Richard also notes that the DVBIA is pushing to remove the dumpsters from alleys and transform them into vibrant pedestrian spaces.  This is the first I’ve heard of the program – but it looks like a great initiative.  Check it out here.





  1. Hmmm, doesn’t the nighttime street closure somewhat negate the City’s plan to “revitalize” Granville Street, the impetus of which was to reinstate car traffic on Granville?
    The end result of that exercise will be the ripping out the mature trees to straighten the roadway and plant a double row of new (smaller) trees (not sure where the sidwalk space will come from for the double row). Sp picture all of the large trees north of Georgia cut down merely for a new landscape design (i.e. a purely superficial exercise).

  2. Granville Street would make a great pedestrian mall. Add some patios and trees and it would be a great place to hangout day and night.

  3. I wonder if the success of temporarily relocating the major bus routes from Granville to parallel Seymour and Howe streets has rekindled this possibility?

  4. It’s clear that the most recent version of Granville Street (no cars, buses only) did not work. Moving forward, it will have to go in one direction or the other — completely open to automobile traffic (ala Robson Street), or completely closed to it. And that includes buses and taxis.
    Walking malls -can- work. Look no further than Boulder, Colorado or Santa Monica for proof.
    Let’s hope this recent experiment on Granville pays dividends — in the way of a pedestrian-only experience. Wouldn’t it be ironic if a bunch of rowdies-turned-funloving drunks were the impetus for this change of heart for Vancouver’s would-be pedestrian mall?

Leave a Reply

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