British Columbia

Makeovers coming to Downtown Vancouver's back alleys

The "More Awesome Now" partnership hopes to convert laneways into engaging public spaces

Basketball hoops, pink roadways coming to the first stretch being improved

Work has already begun on converting one of the laneways, seen here south of West Hastings Street between Seymour and Granville (Manjula Dufresne/CBC)

At best, Vancouver's downtown alleys are currently just grey service routes filled mostly with dumpsters. 

But that's about to change - at least for a few of them. 

The Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association is launching an experiment to draw people into the city's alleys. 

"We've transformed it into a very colourful back alley with bright colours," said Charles Gauthier, head of the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association, of the alley that runs behind West Hastings Street between Seymour and Granville.

Basketball hoops, furniture and unique lighting will soon be installed on the alleway, repainted on the pavement and walls in bright tones of pink and yellow. 

An artist rendition of what a laneway south of West Hastings Street will look after the "More Awesome Now" project is completed. (Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association)

"This is not necessarily ground breaking but it's something people are looking for is the opportunity to take breaks during their day and to enjoy the outdoors and maybe enjoy some sports at the same time," says Gauthier.  

They've launched an experiment with the city and the architecture firm HCMA Architecture + Design to convert three alleys in total into more interesting public spaces. 

"We thought this is really cool, it's been done in other cities," said Gauthier.

"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 different space, this is going to provide people with that opportunity."

Each will have a different theme meant to contrast the areas they are in. 

The next alley, planned for east of Granville Street between Smithe and Robson streets, will be a festival type space and is planned to open next month.

The final alley, planned for south of Alberni Street between Burrard and Bute streets, is intended independent craft-type kiosks, and is set for next spring.

With files from Stephanie Mercier