Robson Square in downtown Vancouver to remain traffic free

It’s time to let cyclists and buses through the 800-block of Robson Street, says the NPA's Melissa Degenova.

NPA's Melissa Degenova wanted to reopen the 800-block of Robson Street to buses and cyclists

A lunchtime crowd gathers at Robson Square on a sunny weekday afternoon. (Jesse Johnston/CBC)

Robson Square will remain closed to traffic, despite a Vancouver city councillor's push to reopen the area to buses and cyclists.

Melissa Degenova says the square has been a failure since traffic barriers were put up two years ago and it hasn't lived up to the family-friendly, vibrant gathering place that it was originally billed as.

"That's not what I've seen," Degenova said.

"I'm very concerned that there are a few groups of people that come out time and time again, including cannabis vendors, and they create an atmosphere that is not family friendly."

Degenova hoped to convince council to reopen the square to traffic at Tuesday's meeting but her notice of motion was found to be out of order for procedural reasons.

She says she's also heard many complaints about marijuana vendors and also from seniors who say they were inconvenienced when bus routes were moved off Robson Street.

Untapped potential

The square has its share of critics but it also has plenty of supporters who want to see it kept traffic free.

Local musician Sam Chimes says it's one of his favourite places to places to play in the city.

On a sunny Monday afternoon, Chimes had a good-sized lunchtime crowd gathered around him on the plaza as he played the keyboard.

Musician Sam Chimes says Robson Square is one of his favourite places to play for a crowd. (Jesse Johnston/CBC)

"It's picturesque and a lot of people go by here, especially around lunchtime and dinnertime," said Chimes, who frequently performs at Robson Square.

"I really like the visuals of it. I actually want to shoot a video here at some point."

Paola Qualizza with the Vancouver Public Square Network says the block is in the middle of a design process that should inject some life into the area in the near future.

Paola Qualizza with the Vancouver Public Square Network is opposed to reopening Robson Square to buses and cyclists. (Jesse Johnston/CBC)

"They're going to define the ends of this block better to create more of a hangout space, add more seating and add more programming," she said.

"The consequence of having buses move through here is that it's no longer a plaza and it cannot functionally perform as a cohesive public space or as a plaza if there are motorized vehicles through it."

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