Frequently asked questions
How are you involving the local Nations in this work?
Gastown is situated on the unceded traditional territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam Indian Band), the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish Nation), and the səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh Nation) Nations, however its streets and public spaces do not currently reflect the histories, culture and visibility of the local Nations.
The Gastown Public Spaces Plan is an opportunity to advance our Reconciliation efforts and work with the Nations to make their histories, culture and presence visible on their lands. The City has partnered with Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and the səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations on this work.
How are you supporting the urban Indigenous communities in the area?
There is a large urban Indigenous community in the Gastown area, with a long history and attachment to this place. The Gastown public spaces plan is an opportunity to support urban Indigenous communities to use, program and enjoy public space, based on their needs.
Pedestrianization and summer pilot
What does it mean to “pedestrianize” a street?
This means limiting vehicle access, making a street car-free or car-light, so it is a more people friendly space for walking or gathering, while maintaining local access needs.
Are you pedestrianizing Water Street?
Yes. The pedestrianization of Water Street and surrounding street network could take many different forms – it could include pedestrianizing a portion of the street, and could be time-bound (i.e. for the summer season only) or year-round. In every option, we will ensure there are connections through the area for people walking, cycling, taking transit and driving. There will also be access for emergency vehicles, for loading and delivery and local residents. We will be exploring these different options of Water St and the surrounding street network in 2024.
Water Street will initially be pedestrianized for the summer pilot in 2024.
Based on what we learn from this, what we hear from residents and businesses, and what our analysis of the streets and public spaces tell us, the Gastown public spaces plan will identify a longer-term refined vision and plan for pedestrianizing Water St.
How will businesses and residents be engaged in pedestrianizing Water Street?
The City will engage businesses and residential buildings on their loading, access and circulation needs before and during pedestrianizing Water Street.
The City will work closely with the Gastown Business Improvement Society and other community organizations on the summer 2024 pedestrian street pilot. We will work with businesses to better understand their access, loading and delivery needs, as well as their aspirations for the pilot. In particular, we will want to support businesses to use the expanded street space. For example, patios and merchandise displays.
We will also work with interested community groups to host activities in the street when Water Street is pedestrian-friendly.
What can businesses expect to see and experience when Water Street is pedestrianized in the summer pilot in 2024?
They can expect to see more programming in the space at specific times of day, expanded opportunities for retail and patios on the street. There will be limited vehicle access, but servicing will continue.
Will you repair and replace the pavers (i.e. street bricks) with similar or different materials?
We will need to replace most of the brick pavers along Water Street and within Maple Tree Square because they have been worn out from years of use.
We are exploring how to repair and replace the brick pavers with materials that reflect the look and feel of the area, are more durable and are easier to use for people with mobility challenges.
There are a mix of people who live, work and use the public spaces in Gastown, including some of the city's poorest residents. How will the future public spaces plan take this into consideration?
Although this plan is not tackling housing or health policies, it will grapple with how to create comfortable, safe, and welcoming streets and spaces for people with a diverse range of needs and wants.
We have and will continue to reach out to people in the many different communities sharing the Gastown area, including service providers in the Downtown Eastside. Through these conversations, we hope to understand early issues that should be considered, and identify the best ways for these community members to participate, ensuring their voices are heard and their needs are represented in this process.