Vancouver leaders work to reshape neighborhoods so residents can get around without cars
When Dick Gill and his wife, Laura, lived in Chicago, they were able to grab groceries, get to work or enjoy the city’s restaurants by walking or taking public transit.
Then they retired and moved to Vancouver in 2016.
“We immediately noticed for most things you have to get in the car,” Gil said. “This is basically a suburban area. It’s built around loads of free parking. It doesn’t make the kind of community where things are close together and you can walk or bike without taking your life in your hands to cross the road.”
That’s something Vancouver leaders are making a concerted effort to change. They envision neighborhoods where people can live, work and shop without always relying on a car. This is necessary not only to maintain livability as the population grows, they say, but also to address rising housing prices and catastrophic climate change.
“As our city continues to grow and evolve, more individuals are looking for transformational neighborhoods where they have easy, convenient access to businesses and services they use frequently, along with their jobs. They want to get to the grocery store, a local restaurant, a refreshing park, or a transit stop without relying heavily on their car,” Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle said.
Vancouver has already made some changes — for example, trading parking for bike lanes on Columbia Street. Others will take decades to reach fruition, like the vision for redevelopment where Tower Mall, Vancouver’s first shopping mall and its vast parking lot, once stood in the Heights neighborhood.