Posted by: VPSN | November 26, 2010

Expanding Robson Square – Your Help Needed!

South Steps - Art Gallery Art Gallery, south steps @ Robson Street. Photo by Tyler Ingram 

Next Tuesday, November 30, a very important public space motion will be debated at City Council. We need your help with making some very positive noise about this one.

Councillor Suzanne Anton is introducing a motion to expand Robson Square by closing down Robson Street between Howe and Hornby. This would, in effect, pedestrianize the entire south side of the Art Gallery block and turn it into a larger public gathering place. For proponents of a downtown public square this is an extraordinary opportunity. And given that the site is currently closed off because of other construction, the timing is excellent.

The specific text of the motion requests that:

“[City] staff consult with interested parties, including the general public, TransLink, the Downtown Vancouver BIA, the Robson Street BIA, the Art Gallery, and the Province of BC to consider the feasibility of creating a major public square at the 800 Robson Street, with a permanent closure of the street in that block.”

The VPSN is 100% supportive of this motion. For those of you who have been following our work with the Where’s the Square? initiative will know that we’ve long had our eye on this space (as did many of the designers who submitted plans during our ideas competition). The south end of the VAG is the natural spot for a grand gathering place in the downtown, and the present motion would provide a fantastic opportunity to enhance an already vital public space, making it more accessible, more people-friendly and more vibrant than it already is.

We believe that this motion supports the efforts and interests of all three political parties represented at City Council. It presents an chance to take a positive step forward on a number of fronts. Public gathering places of this sort play an important role in supporting urban sustainability, public health and the local economy.

We need your help to make this happen!  Please take a few minutes to contact City Council to let them know that they favour such a motion. A quick letter or email will make all the difference.

Consider doing one of the following:

(1) Write to Mayor and Council and ask them to support the motion to permanently close Robson Street (between Hornby and Howe) and turn it into a public square. By post: Mayor Gregor Robertson and Members of Council, City of Vancouver, 453 West 12th Avenue, Vancouver, BC, V5Y 1V4. By email: mayorandcouncil [at] You can also send it to each of the councillors individually: [firstname].[lastname] NOTE: Try to get your letter in as soon as possible. If you want to write to specific members of Council check out this page.  Please consider copying us on your correspondence – urbandesign [at]

(2) Make a brief presentation to Council. If you have the time to present your thoughts in person, consider getting on the speakers list by contacting the City Clerk’s office. Phone: 604.873.7276. Email: mayorandcouncil [at]

A Final Note: The motion will likely be referred to one of the Standing Committees of Council on Thursday, December 2. If you want to speak in person, plan on attending Thursday. The Clerk’s office will provide you more details.



  1. I surprised it took so long for such a motion to be tabled, given the political capital to be gained. I’m optimistic about its passage given that Anton proposed it — Vision will adopt the motion or else risk another wedge.

    Email written. Let’s hope they follow through.

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