Vancouver city council is anticipated to approve a $5.38 million budget that will allow for the construction of a new permanent design for 800 Robson Plaza at Robson Square.
There were doubts late last year that the project would be included in the 2019 capital budget, but city staff are now pushing it through for consideration in a public meeting next week.
A total of $4.25 million will come from the city’s Development Cost Levy, and a further $1.3 million provided by TransLink for sidewalks and cycling infrastructure will be reallocated to the project.
Since the summer of 2017, a temporary design turned the two-lane, 800 Robson Street city block into a pedestrian-only plaza, with elements consisting of an asphalt layer to create a single-level plaza surface, temporary planter barriers at the ends of the block, and movable street furniture.
However, these temporary elements have not been deemed worthy of the ‘public face’ of the city, given the location’s high profile and its significant pedestrian traffic.
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“In its current make-shift state, the space’s practical functionality doesn’t lend to smooth event hosting or operational upkeep and the optics are poor,” reads an open letter written by Charles Gauthier, the President and CEO of the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association.
“Deferring the construction of Robson’s permanent plaza would only emphasize the temporariness of this place for people and all of the momentum generated and resources spent on the path to a permanent plaza would be lost.”
In 2016, the previous city council approved the permanent design concept of the plaza, which entails a continuous level surface of concrete and pavers consistent with the rest of Robson Square, improved drainage, landscaping, permanent seating, lighting, public art, and electrical and water infrastructure to support events and vendors.
Seasonal weather protection could also be introduced to the plaza for wintertime events.
If city council approves the funding, the provincial government is expected to oversee the construction of the project as it owns Robson Square.