Charles Gauthier, president and CEO of the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association (DVBIA), says for years his members had wanted to perk up the city’s back laneways. …
WHAT THEY WANTED: With Vancouver’s sky-rocketing real-estate values, underused alleyways seemed ideal to redevelop for public use. The DVBIA hired HCMA Architecture + Design to redesign three alleyways for the city: the first being south of West Hastings St. between Granville St. and Seymour St. Gauthier says HCMA proposed the redevelopment of the area to the city. It went for it and gave the DVBIA a grant of $100,000, which covered the basic cost of the first laneway, Hastings West Laneway.
WHAT THEY GOT: Architect Paul Fast, from HCMA, says architects went for a ‘Play’ theme to contrast the neighbourhood’s business atmosphere. They pressure-washed the laneway, removed some of the bigger potholes, painted the street with street grade paint, as well as walls and dumpsters, in pink, purple and yellow. Fast says, “The colour scheme we chose was to make this a really bright, welcoming, vibrant space. The yellow was important because the colour palette of the buildings around it is a very grey stone muted colour palette. To get people into this space we had to have this strong punch of colour.”
HOW IT CHANGED THINGS: DVBIA stats show that before the laneway redevelopment, 30 people an hour went through it, now 73 people an hour use it. Six vehicles an hour used to travel through the space, now it’s three vehicles per hour. Also prior to the changes, 75 per cent of people going through the back alley were men and 25 per cent were women. Now it’s 57 per cent men and 43 per cent women. “Women didn’t feel safe walking through the back lane — this has now changed,” says Gauthier, who adds the city doesn’t have to spend as much money servicing the area now.