West End: One block of Bute to become pedestrian only

Plan part of Davie Street Revitalization

Prior to the launch of Pride Week July 29, the short block of Bute Street south of Davie and up to the alley will be permanently closed to traffic and converted into a pedestrian-only space and garden area to be used for community events and gatherings.

The move is the first of more than 30 recommendations included in the Davie Street Revitalization Report created and compiled by the City of Vancouver LGBTQ Advisory Committee. The subcommittee responsible for the report included Barb Snelgrove, Dean Malone and Ron Stipp who presented the seven-page document to city council and the West End planning team in late June.

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Snelgrove said the block closure is one of the quick fixes included in the report, while other recommendations will take longer to implement and some will require more consideration and public input.

The subcommittee spoke to residents, queer community leaders and the owners of small businesses, retail outlets, restaurants and bars, as well as organizations such as the Vancouver Pride Society, Qmunity and the West End Business Improvement Association. We took all of the recommendations and wish lists and combined them with what we as a committee had heard as feedback, said Snelgrove. Keep in mind these are just recommendations and wish list items.

Snelgrove said maintaining and recognizing Davie Village as the heart of the citys gay and lesbian community was a key concern, which is why there are several recommendations dedicated to raising the areas profile. One recommendation includes the installation of a huge rainbow Pride flag in the central stretch of Davie Street bounded by Burrard and Jervis streets. Other ideas include a queer historical walk along Davie Street, building an arch at the entrance to the village and installing rainbow-coloured cross walks, sidewalk murals and historical plaques. The city recently approved a plan to install a permanent rainbow-coloured crosswalk in Davie Village. Our greatest intent was in ensuring the queer perspective was heard in regards to the redevelopment of the area, said Snelgrove.

Some of the long-term recommendations that would require more discussion and extensive funding include reducing Davie Street to two lanes and removing on-street parking, moving or adding parking meters to back alleys and creating curbside pastures by adding seating through the removal of several parking spaces.

Stephen Regan, executive director of the West End Business Improvement Association said the report has been well received.

The BIA spent about two years on our own analysis and submitted it to the city with our own vision, said Regan. And its about 80 per cent aligned with the recommendations.

Regan said one of those recommendations was the closure of that small section of Bute Street for community activities. Were also very interested in the gateway kinds of things recommended in the report such as more flags and lights, said Regan.

Kevin McNaney, assistant director of planning for the city, said the recommendations in the report are being considered as part of the citys official West End plan.

Davie Village is an extremely important space and theres a lot of interest in maintaining its entertainment, shopping and community functions.

sthomas@vancourier.com

twitter.com/sthomas10

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