Posted by: VPSN | December 31, 2010

Happy New Year – 2010 in review…

MRs Macquarie's Point
Meanwhile, on the other side of the world… a crowd gathers for New
Year’s celebrations at Mrs Macquerie’s Point in Sydney Australia.
Submitted by VPSN member Lisa M.

A late year greeting to all of you from the gang at the VPSN.  This is it: day 365 of 2010 and we’re a mere few hours away from a brand new year.  We hope you’re having a grand time with you various celebrations.

We wanted to take this opportunity to send you out a quick thank you for all your support this past year.  2010 has been an exciting one for us – and a busy year for public space related issues in the Vancouver.  We had the opportunity to be involved in a great number of initiatives, and it’s been fun take this holiday period to reflect on the public space ‘scene’ in Vancouver over the past 12 months.

This time last year, Vancouverites of all political stripes were gearing up for the Olympics, planning a range of activities. In addition to some pre-Games advocacy work around Olympic gathering areas, corporate signage and the deployment of surveillance technology, the VPSN also launched our blog during the 1st month of 2010 – using it to report out on urban issues – starting with the Game’s related transformation of the City.  Since that time, we’ve seen our readership grow in leaps and bounds… and it’s been a great tool to connect with residents of the City about civic affairs issues.

2010 was also a big year on the active transportation front.  The Olympic transportation plan marked a watershed moment for shaping urban mobility during the Games.  But that was only the start!  The Vancouver Courier recently declared their ‘Newsmaker of the Year’ to be the bicycle – no small tribute to the many initiatives that have taken place concerning the humble two-wheeler this year.  Chief amongst these was the installation of the Dunsmuir viaduct separated bikelane in the Spring of this year and the more recent opening of the Hornby Street separated lane.  These weren’t controversy free, to be sure, and yes, the process could have been handled better… but regardless, we feel that they will help to put Vancouver on the path to a more sustainable, healthful future.   

Pedestrian issues have also begun to come to the fore and we’ve been working to support these where possible.  There been an increasing focus on improving the pedestrian experience, the walkability of neighbourhoods, and attending to issues of pedestrian safety.  And with the City focusing on “green mobility” as part of its Bright Green Future initiative and planning to develop a new Transportation Plan in 2011, this positive trend will only continue.  Our prediction?  2011 will be to pedestrian issues, what 2010 was to the bicycle.  Just watch what happens when the international Walk 21 Conference landing in town in November.

Animating the city’s public spaces has always been part of our strategy to focus attention on the public realm.  This year was no exception!  In the summer time we transformed Granville Street into a giant percussive ensemble with our Stick it to the Streets event. Later in the year, we were pleased to roll out two of our annual favourites: in September we participated in our third Park(ing) Day celebration – that international day of parking space reclamation (this year we had sites in Davie Village and at City Hall).  Then in late October, we had our annual Halloween transit party – a massive costumed take-over of the Seabus.  And then in November we managed to get 100 folks together on Vancouver’s coldest, snowiest day, to make a giant ‘ecological footprint’ as part of an international public art project.  

In 2010 we continued to wear our advocacy hats on all aspects of Vancouver’s public space policy – from arguing against the deployment of surveillance cameras in schools to raising the alarm over new forms of corporate advertising, from to registering concern with increased fees for community-based events, to taking a stance against the proposal to extend the municipal vote to corporations.

We’ve also weighed in on site-specific spaces as well – we participated in the discussion around moving the Vancouver Art Gallery, developed new community gardens, completed an ethnographic film on Yaletown Park, and focused a considerable amount of resources towards advocating for a sufficient quantity and quality of public space (and other  public benefits) as part of the development of Northeast False Creek.  And of course there’s another item we’re very excited about: the push to transform the 800 block of Robson Street into a public square (a move that was recently supported by all three municipal parties!)  

This was just a sampling of some of the things we were involved in last year. As with all our projects, the aforementioned initiatives gave us the chance to work with fantastic volunteers, amazing community organizations and stellar people in local government, schools and universities and the community at large.  It’s an honour for us to be able to collaborate with Vancouver’s many excellent space-makers and urban enthusiasts. 

* * * * * 

VPSN Coordinators also took the first weekend in December to plan out some of our activities for 2011.  Here’s a sneak peek of a few of the many things you can expect to see over the next 12 months:

  • Where’s the Square II – stay tuned for our summertime animation of Robson Street – with a fantastic food-themed event.
  • Vancouver Votes / Public Space Manifesto – 2011 is election year, and as with the last municipal contest, the VPSN will be developing a new manifesto and a number of election related events aimed at putting public space issues on the agenda. 
  • Relaunching PubliCity – we’ve had an issue ready to go for a few months now… and we’ll be rolling this out in the first few months of 2011.
  • Transforming Broadway – Due in January, our report on transforming Broadway into a Great Street will showcase exciting options for the future of Vancouver’s longest east/west corridor.
  • Speaker Series / Backgrounders / Websites – We’ve been developing new backgrounders on public health, parking space reclamation, and greenspaces, to name a few.  We’ll also be launching version 2.0 of our website, holding key speaker series events and a range of other open-source materials
  • Collaborative ventures – We’ve got some exciting things lined up with the Museum of Vancouver and the Vancouver Art Gallery, and other projects in the hopper as well.

And there will be lots of other stuff coming as well… including all your favourite annual events, parties, film fest activities and more. 

Finally… don’t forget, the first big community opportunity to embrace public space takes place tomorrow morning, January 1, with the annual polar bear swim.  Even if you don’t brave the chilly waters of English Bay yourself, the scene is a festive one.

The year begins and ends with celebrating in public space.  Happy 2011 everyone!  Very best wishes to you all.

Your friends at the Vancouver Public Space Network

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