British Columbia

Councillor tables motion to tame Vancouver's 'negative and chaotic' Granville strip

Coun. George Affleck aims to reduce crime on the popular entertainment strip, especially in light of another violent death recently.

Longer bar hours, bigger patios, more pedestrian access among Coun. George Affleck's suggestions

Vancouver city councillor George Affleck stands on Granville Street, where he says the 'chaos' of the entertainment district at night has gone too far. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

It's midday on a cold, sunny Monday on downtown Granville Street and it's pretty quiet — a stark contrast to Friday or Saturday night, says Vancouver city Coun. George Affleck. 

"If you were to come here at two in the morning, you would see a lot people who are probably quite loaded and drunk and they're just screaming and yelling and having fun, I suppose, but sometimes it does get quite violent and quite threatening to people," said Affleck. 

He gestures to a small, empty restaurant patio.

"This is where it all should be happening in a positive way — not the current way, which is so negative and chaotic," he said.

Cabana Lounge death

Bigger patios for restaurants is one part of a motion Affleck is introducing to council Tuesday, which also calls for an increase in video surveillance and allowing bars to stay open later in the Granville Entertainment District, as well as making the street more pedestrian friendly at all times of day.

The NPA councillor thinks it could help reduce crime, especially in light of another violent death on downtown Vancouver's popular strip.

Club promoter Kalwinder Thind was killed while trying to break up a fight last month at Cabana Lounge.

Police tape is strung around a crime scene outside Cabana Lounge following a fight that resulted in the death of a worker at the club in late January. (Cory Correia/CBC)

"The death three weeks ago certainly brought this whole issue of Granville Street back to light," said Affleck, who tried — and failed — to pass a similar motion in 2013.

Longer bar hours

Affleck wants to reduce the crime that the fun-seeking, alcohol-fuelled crowds bring to the neighbourhood at night, as well as improve the sights and sounds along the strip during the day.

Relaxing closing times is a suggestion that went over well at Donnellan's Irish Pub.

"If [bars could stay open] until five or six, people could be going when they want to go," said manager Jordan Flynn on Monday. "It wouldn't just be everyone has to rush out of the bar all at the same time."

"When people are leaving bars and they have a couple of drinks left, they're drinking too quick," said Flynn.

Donnellan's Irish Pub Manager Jordan Flynn pours a pint on Monday afternoon. (Jesse Johnston/CBC)

In terms of improving the area as an attraction for families and tourists, Affleck wants to see bus lines moved to adjacent streets, freeing up Granville for more pedestrian access and special events. He wants restaurants to be able to create bigger patios on the sidewalks. 

Committee already working on issues

Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association CEO Charles Gauthier said he's on board with a few of the changes Affleck is proposing.

He says, for instance, that there's surveillance infrastructure still in place from the Olympics that could be pressed into service. Gauthier also supports the idea of getting more patios out into the street.

But he says a committee — the Granville Entertainment District Safety and Security Working Group — was recently put together to address many of the issues of crime and safety in the area. It includes Gauthier, representatives from Vancouver Coastal Health, Vancouver Police, Bar Watch, city staff and others.

"I would like faster action too ... we've made some good progress in the course of the past 10 months working with city staff on this working group," said Gauthier. "The work is ongoing."

But the committee isn't addressing the issue quickly enough, according to Affleck, whose motion will likely face opposition from a Vision Vancouver-run council.

"A committee's great, but it's action I'm looking for," he said. "I believe that if council makes a decision and gives clear priorities to staff and to police, things start to happen."

With files from Jesse Johnston

Follow Rafferty Baker on Twitter: @raffertybaker

About the Author

Rafferty Baker is a video journalist with CBC News, based in Vancouver. You can find his stories on CBC Radio, television, and online at cbc.ca/bc.

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