With the Vancouver Canucks back in the Stanley Cup chase, you might expect a return of good times to Granville Street. The city’s downtown entertainment district was the epicentre of fandom and fun during the Olympic Games — and there’s no reason why that shouldn’t continue through these hockey playoffs.
But wouldn’t you know it, our politicians and city planners have instead turned their back on the winning formula that made this area tick in February. During the Winter Games, Granville was closed off to all traffic. Locals and visitors alike loved the new-and-improved Granville — a true pedestrian mall that appealed to people from all walks of life.
And yet, the City of Vancouver and TransLink are fixated on running trolley buses down the street once again. But by doing so, they run the risk of ushering in a return to Granville’s bad old days, where an evening stroll involved avoiding oncoming drunks, drug pushers and public transit vehicles.
At least one Metro Vancouver resident has had enough. Urban issues and sustainable transport advocate Paul Hillsdon of Surrey has launched a Facebook group called “Keep Granville for People.” His site has already signed up more than 1,200 followers.
Hillsdon told me that TransLink should keep its buses running on adjacent streets — and forego the wasteful costs associated with reinstalling the trolley lines up and down the corridor.
“The Olympics demonstrated how lively and bustling Granville could be everyday,” he said. “It was one of the central hubs for people, and many Vancouverites would like to see efforts be undertaken to keep a pedestrianized Granville as an Olympic legacy. Giving Granville back to cars and buses, I believe, is shortsighted.”
Sadly, his pleas aren’t being heard. The bus plan is pushing forward.
Last month, Vancouver transportation engineer Jerry Dobrovolny told city council that Translink paid more than $10 million to preserve its access. Translation: There is no backing out of this deal.
To which I say, so what? The city should issue cash-strapped TransLink a refund and take back its property immediately. Surely this near-exclusive access to downtown’s most prominent corridor is worth more than $10 million.
As for celebrating a Canucks run in the playoffs? Maybe it’s a moot point for hardcore fans after all. Why bother partying on Granville when one can riot on Robson Street instead?