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A new report from the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association. To commemorate the association's 25th anniversary, 11,000 residents, business people and visitors helped imagine where the city could be in another 25 years. Photograph by: Jason Payne , PNG
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This article was published originally on The Vancouver Sun on November 5, 2015.

What Vancouverites want by 2040: report

Survey compiles 11,000 opinions

By Matthew Robinson and Brian Morton, November 5, 2015, vancouversun.com

VANCOUVER - In downtown Vancouver, 2040, sidewalks are decorated with furniture and rain-activated paintings.

Restaurants and galleries are tucked into alleys like hidden gems and the city runs 24/7. In downtown Vancouver, 2040, drivers, cyclists and pedestrians play nice and there is no more TransLink. (Well, there might be, but its buses are free.)

And Downtown Vancouver 2040? It's the movie location, not just the set.

It all may sound like a Hollywood fantasy, but this vision comes via a new report from the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association.

To commemorate the association's 25th anniversary, 11,000 residents, business people and visitors helped imagine where the city could be in another 25 years.

Charles Gauthier, the DVBIA president and CEO, said participants seemed to want downtown Vancouver to be a place where people can live through every phase of their lives.

He said they - and the report - also showed a "great alignment" with many of the city's priorities and projects.

"People have a craving for better ways of getting into the downtown," he said, adding "people are craving more public spaces, and activations of the alleyways to serve more than just a function of service."

The report envisions a future downtown Vancouver as a healthy, life-affirming place, a network of connected greenways and activated alleyways.

It envisions downtown Vancouver highlighted by art and businesses, home to young families and seniors, affordable for anyone that wants to live there, and home to multinational headquarters. It has a distinctive skyline and is "rain-proofed" with retractable awnings. It's collar has been loosened thanks to relaxed liquor regulations and residents who make a living wage.

The DVBIA partnered with SFU Public Square on the project, which included an online survey. The results cannot be considered to represent the population, the association warned, but they do point to some views that are out there. Most respondents saw the city becoming more of an arts and culture hub than a place to do business.

Gauthier said he was very pleased with the feedback.

"Over 11,000 people over a course of 2½ months were engaged in the process. For me the highlights were that 59 per cent of the people who participated in the survey were under the age of 35. That's fantastic, because we really want to engage that next generation that's going to be around 25 years from now. What kind of downtown do they want?" A quarter of respondents were under age 24 and more than half of all respondents came from a western European background.

"The new vision for downtown over the next 25 years includes an equitable, sustainable and friendly city that celebrates its waterfront setting," the DVBIA said in a release. "Where protected nature and creative urbanism successfully cohabit. Where digital technology is embraced. And where our equal distance from Asia and Europe positions us as a city of influence."

Mayor Gregor Robertson congratulated the DVBIA.

"It's great to see such a strong outpouring of public support for city priorities such as increasing public space and making it easier to walk, bike and take transit in our downtown. I look forward to delving deeper into the report and hearing broader public feedback on it."

The DVBIA, which represents 8,000 property owners and tenants in the 90 blocks of the central business district and downtown south, will use the research to inform its new five-year strategic plan.

The report will be available later today at reimaginedowntown. com for community groups, businesses and the city to use to help implement ideas.

Sorry to disappoint, but there are probably still no hoverboards in downtown Vancouver 2040.

mrobinson@vancouversun.com

bmorton@vancouversun.com

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