Vancouver leaders are working to reshape neighborhoods so residents can get around car-free
When Dick Gill and his wife, Laura, lived in Chicago, they could shop for groceries, get to work, or enjoy the city’s restaurants by walking or taking public transportation.
Then they retired and moved to Vancouver in 2016.
“We immediately noticed that for most things you have to get in the car,” Gill said. “It’s basically a suburban area. It is built around numerous free car parks. It doesn’t make for the kind of community where things are close together and where you can walk or cycle without taking your life into your own hands to cross the road.
This is something Vancouver leaders are making a concerted effort to change. They imagine neighborhoods where people can live, work and shop without always depending on a car. This is necessary not only to maintain habitability as the population grows, they say, but also to cope with rising house prices and catastrophic climate change.
“As our city continues to grow and evolve, more and more people are looking for transforming neighborhoods where they have easy and convenient access to the businesses and services they use frequently, as well as their jobs. They want to get to the grocery store, a local restaurant, a refreshing park or a transit stop without relying heavily on their car,” said Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle.
Vancouver has already made some changes, such as swapping parking for bike lanes on Columbia Street. Others will take decades to come to fruition, like the redevelopment vision where Tower Mall, Vancouver’s first shopping center and its vast parking lot, once stood in the Heights neighborhood.