British Columbia

British Columbia has all the best streets in Canada this year

It seems if you're looking for a great Canadian street, all roads lead to British Columbia.

Smithers, New Westminster, Ladysmith and Vancouver vying for 'Great Street in Canada' award

Saba Pakdel gets her photo taken inside Alley-Oop near West Hastings and Granville in Vancouver. (Jon Hernandez/CBC)

It seems if you're looking for a great Canadian street, all roads lead to British Columbia.

All four finalists for "great street" in the Great Canadian Places competition are from the western province, although they are as diverse as the province itself, including historic streets in the north and on Vancouver Island, as well as two recent redesigns of Lower Mainland roadways. 

"It was coincidence, but the timing is right," said Beth McMahon, executive director and CEO of the Canadian Institute of Planners, which runs the competition.

"The last time that a B.C. street won was 2011... and last year no B.C. streets were nominated."

Alpine Al greets visitors to Smithers' Main Street. (Andrew Kurjata/CBC)

The institute started the Great Places competition in 2011 as a way to highlight the role urban design plays in bringing communities together, McMahon explained.

"So this doesn't include wild parks," she said. "It's community places that Canadians value."

Nominations are accepted in three categories: Great Street, Great Public Space and Great Neighbourhood. Voting is then open to the public online for a People's Choice award and a jury of planners selects the ultimate winner.

Crews bring down the stairwell during day one of the Front Street parkade deconstruction project in New Westminster that made way for the Front Street Mews. (Jesse Johnston/CBC)

"It's really quite a detailed selection process," McMahon said.

"There are thousands upon thousands of votes."

She said having four finalists in the streets category has added a new element of entertainment to this year's competition.

"The towns that have been nominated are very active. The mayors are behind their campaigns. It actually sets up a bit of a fun rivalry."

Public voting is now closed, and the winner will be announced Nov. 8. 

Great B.C. Streets

Here are the four B.C. streets nominated for the 2017 award, plus the only previous winner from the province.

Main Street, Smithers

"Main Street is something that when you're a Smithereen that's very special," said councillor and Tourism Smithers marketing director Gladys Atrill.

"It houses a really unique amalgam of retailers and places to eat. It's a social place... plus it's beautiful."

Front Street Mews, New Westminster

The result of a major redesign project, Front Street Mews aims to be a pedestrian-friendly way to explore the city and view the nearby riverfront.

First Avenue, Ladysmith

The Arts on the Avenue Festival on Ladysmith's First Avenue. (Town of Ladysmith)

"First Avenue, which combines an iconic streetscape reminiscent of the 1900s with the modern conveniences of the 21st century, has played a pivotal role in helping to shape Ladysmith's identity as a charming, diverse and vibrant west coast community," wrote Mayor Aaron Stone in a blog post encouraging residents to vote.

Alley Oop, Vancouver

Another re-imagining of a Lower Mainland Road, Alley Oop is the result of the collective More Awesome Now working with the Downtown Vancouver Business Association to make better use of the city's alleys.

"We're seeing an increase in density in the downtown ... and if you don't have a lot of time to get to the seawall during your lunch but want to have a 10 minute respite in a different space, this is going to provide people with that opportunity," said business association president and CEO Charles Gauthier.

Commercial Street, Nanaimo

The inaugural winner of the Great Street contest, Nanaimo's Commercial Street was recognized in 2011 for its historic storefronts and bars.


Andrew Kurjata

CBC Prince George | @akurjata

Andrew Kurjata is an award-winning journalist covering Northern British Columbia for CBC Radio and, situated in unceded Lheidli T'enneh territory in Prince George. You can email him at You can also send encrypted messages using Signal to 250.552.2058.