Conflicting priorities on the Granville Street Mall

Author/s: Landon Hoyt

Creation date: 2014

Contact info: landon.hoyt@gmail.com

Senior supervisor: Anthony Perl

Keywords: Granville Street, downtown Vancouver, transit planning, pedestrian mall, transit mall, entertainment district, public space, Canada Line

Geographic focus: Vancouver, BC; British Columbia; Canada

Research question/s: How have multiple, potentially incompatible goals for the Granville Street Mall affected progress toward creating and maintaining the street as a transit mall, pedestrian and festival space, retail and consumption space, and entertainment district?

Signficance

Granville Street serves a mix of uses that is unlike any other North American street. At different times it serves as a commuter corridor, entertainment district and festival space, among other uses. This project examines the motivations and decision-making process behind the 2008 redesign of Granville Street, focusing on the complexity of managing the various uses and demands of stakeholders. This analysis also addresses factors such as transit planning and the introduction of the Canada Line, the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, increased demands for activated public space, public drunkenness in the entertainment district, and downtown business interests. Lessons learned from this research can contribute to the development and management practices of other multi-use streets across North America.

Findings

Through document analysis, direct on-street observations, and in-depth interviews with key informants, the author determined that the Granville Street “experiment” is one that has yielded some worthwhile results. The planning of Granville Street over the past several decades has been somewhat ad hoc and spontaneous, but there is an agreed temporal separation of uses. Though never specifically mentioned in the written plans, this temporal separation works relatively well. This innovative approach to street management is worthy of recognition and repetition. The author also found that adding uses to such a street can be beneficial, as long as any inherent conflicts are addressed and managed through proactive communication and coordination among stakeholder organizations.