This is Georgia Street on Monday evening – the entire of right-of-way from Library to Post Office – as fans gather to watch the hockey game on a giant TV in front of the CBC:
I can say pretty confidently that the City, when I was on Council, would never have considered the possibility. Closing Georgia, that is – not the prospect of the Canucks winning the Stanley Cup. Our experience in 1994 (I personally found out what tear gas feels like) would not have been encouraging.
But more than that, no one would have thought we could get away with closing off the major arterial through downtown at the height of rush hour. All the concern would have been the impact on car traffic, not the desire to serve the fans. Nor would the fans have thought to come downtown, mainly on transit, to experience the event in a public place – the middle of a street – whether Georgia or Scott and 72nd in Surrey. (Can anyone explain to me why that intersection became – without anyone saying so – the understood gathering place?)
Most credit the Olympics for this conversion – and certainly that had a huge impact on the Engineering Department, the Police, TransLink – everyone involved in logistics who learned how to respond to continually changing circumstances and to do it quickly and with confidence. And to the people of the City, who likewise have learned how to celebrate in the public spaces of Vancouver with – so far – civility.