Downtown Vancouver’s gritty back laneways have a reputation for dirty and smelly, and at times you need to be careful with what you step on. But that completely changed last night for one laneway located south of West Hastings Street between Granville and Seymour streets in the Central Business District.
Through a pilot project spearheaded by the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association (DVBIA), with support from the City of Vancouver and local businesses, the laneway’s road surface and walls now boast colourful shades of bright pink and yellow.
There are even basketball hoops and miniature soccer goal nets with a handful of basketballs and soccer balls for passersby to play with, and if anyone wants to bring their own sports equipment for even a game of lunchtime or afterwork ball hockey they are more than welcome to do so.
Only two garbage bins remain in the laneway as local businesses are now sharing their disposal units.
While the laneway has been transformed into a pedestrian-friendly public space, vehicles can still access and travel through the road and pedestrians are expected to step to the side to allow the vehicles to pass.
The daily activations and equipment will be managed by the Odyssey Nightclub, which has a secondary entrance in the back lane. They will be setting up a bar outside their back door and playing music every night as a way of making the lane space a place for where people can gather and socialize.
Future additions to this particular laneway over the coming weeks will include the extension of the patio spaces into the back lane for Starbucks on the Seymour Street end and Trees Organic Coffee Shop on the Granville Street end. Overhead string lighting will also be installed to ensure the space continues to be a welcoming space at night.
Three laneway transformations are planned for downtown Vancouver as part of a relatively small $200,000 pilot project investment split between the DVBIA and municipal government.
The next laneway makeover is planned for the back lane between Granville and Seymour streets between Robson and Smithe, by the Orpheum Theatre, and it could be ready for public enjoyment sometime in October. This will be followed by another makeover for the laneway between Robson and Alberni streets between Burrard and Thurlow streets.
If the pilot project proves to be a success, an entire network of vibrant and pedestrian-friendly laneways could be built across the downtown peninsula.