Re-Imagine Downtown Vancouver is asking people to share their stories and visions for the future of our downtown. Our downtown is changing— this is an opportunity to chance to dream big and inspire new ideas to help shape its future! Here is how Charles Gauthier, the President & CEO of the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association (DVBIA) re-imagines downtown Vancouver:
I will turn 79 years old on August 23, 2040. I confess that I’m making a number of assumptions: that I’ll be on this earth in 2040, that I will be as mobile (maybe not as nimble) as I am today, and that I will be in a good health. If genetics matter and they are any indication, then these assumptions are not too far flung. Both my parents are alive, living comfortably and in generally good health approaching their 80’s.
What kind of downtown experience do I want in 2040? I want a downtown that I can easily get to and around by public transit. And once I’m there, I can walk to every destination because the sidewalks are much wider than they are today to accommodate more pedestrians and a very active street life—i.e. buskers, street vendors, barrier-free sidewalk patios, weekly festivals. I feel comfortable and safe walking downtown because it’s a people place and the pace is much slower. Everything is now calibrated to how fast seniors can walk; this means that the “walk” signals at controlled intersections are much longer so that people can safely get to the other side without having to run the last few steps.
I want a downtown where people of all ages, all socio-economic classes and walks of life can live. It needs to be affordable for those just starting off a career, for those with a family, and for those of us who are on fixed income. It also needs to continue to be the place where those less fortunate can call home; where they have a roof over their head and access to other basic needs.
I want a downtown that is alive and celebrates all cultures in all its manifestations. Multiply the number of annual festivals and events that happen today by a factor of five. Since 25% of this province’s population will be 65 years and older within 20 years, let’s have festivals and events downtown during the week! I’d much prefer coming downtown than doing a seniors’ bus trip to some boring suburban destination.
I want a downtown that pays homage to local artists. Their works of art are not only exhibited in galleries, but are woven into the fabric of our built form for everyone to enjoy. More sculptures; more statues; more murals; more mosaic art tiles. All by local artists.
I want a downtown that fosters creativity. Less bland streetscapes and lacklustre high-rises. More colour. More interesting architecture.
I believe that my aspirations for downtown by 2040 are not mere fancy. In my 20-plus year tenure as President and CEO of the DVBIA, I have contributed to and witnessed a phenomenal transformation of this place by so many talented, caring and dedicated professionals in both the public and private sectors. I have every confidence that we will continue to attract this kind of talent in the decades ahead who will make downtown even better than it is today.
Do you have a downtown Vancouver story, observation, or idea (big or small) you’d like to share? Re-Imagine Downtown Vancouver would love to hear from you. Post your contribution on their stories page and help re-imagine our downtown!