Won’t you use me — I need some love. (Click to enlarge).

An earlier post on Price Tags shows Jim Deva Plaza, a well-loved public space.

Well, here’s one that is neither well-loved nor well-used. It’s near Cambie & Broadway, just north of the lovely City Square.

It seems to be a well-constructed, well-intended part of the nearby condo-townhouse development, but along with little use, it seems to get little upkeep either.  Maybe the two are related.

To be fair, there’s a small community garden on the east side, and a daycare on the south.  Local intelligence (my dentist) tells me that people occasionally use it as a shortcut from Cambie & Broadway (Canada Line station) to the City Square complex, and kids from the daycare sometimes run around on it. Also, the public space that’s north of City Square doesn’t get much use either.


  1. When i worked nearby, I often went there at lunchtime on sunny days that were not too hot. The space has too few benches, and so often there was no place to sit. The grassy area was nice to look at but not appealing to sit on.

    As for the north side of City Square, it is usually in shadow.

    Both spaces lack sheltered spaces and so tend to serve only as pleasant walkways away from motor vehicle traffic on cool and rainy days.

  2. I like Kunstler’s joke about I M Pei’s Boston Civic Square Plaza – a place so dismal even the dispossessed avoid it – that the city fathers were waiting for Pei to die before changing it in order to avoid offending him.
    This little space could use a fountain with seating around it – something clever in the middle – not the traditional dolphins and cherubs spouting water. Something that speaks of this place and time.
    But who pays?

  3. In Europe it would become a beer garden with lots of nice trees creating shade. Self-financing.

  4. Isn’t there City hall staff parking underneath that area?
    If so, who’s responsible for the maintenance up top?
    Maybe when the membrane will have to be replaced (that development may be about 25 years old now?) and the lawn ripped up, they can renovate it at that time.

    Something as simple as more benches and planters would work.
    I think fountains are not politically correct these days, as they are viewed as wasting water (through evaporation).

  5. It’s probably designed specifically to deter use. I’d argue Leg-in-Boot Square is even more unloved considering how many more people are aware it exists. Thousands of people walk and cycle by every single day, yet it remains largely empty most of the time. This is on purpose. The strata owners control who rents the commercial properties that ring the square. If it’s going to attract people to linger it is verboten.

  6. I’m in that area all the time but never realized that was a public space. A design element I’m used to in Vancouver is grade separation of private green spaces from the street/walkway. I just assumed it was a private space using that design to keep people out without actively gating/fencing it.

  7. A dissenting opinion: its a space I love. It’s simple but flexible. My daughter’s daycare is on the southern edge of the space and the kids use the space to run, play in the snow in the winter and have picnics in the summer. The eastern edge is well used for community gardens. Is it heavily used? no. But sometimes we overlook spaces when they are used in atypical ways (i.e. the Robson Square ice rink). And its notable in the history of the Vancouver built environment as its part of the Cambridge Gardens project – an early one by James K.M. Cheng and an early experiment in ground-oriented townhouse in a higher density residential project (an important step in the evolution of tower/podium).
    IMO, we need more of these simple ‘front lawn’ spaces in higher density residential communities.

  8. I used to live about 7 blocks from there, and until now, I honestly had no idea that public space existed.

    Looking on Google Maps street-view, the space appears to be completely hidden from Cambie street, which I expect is a major reason for its under-use.

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