Thursday, June 2, 2011

Canucks and Urban Form

Vancouver loves its Canucks and we certainly like celebrating that fact on the streets. This fact got me thinking about public space in Metro Vancouver. I believe it was Gordon Price who said and I paraphrase, “If you tell me where people go to celebrate impromptu, I can tell you where the heart of the city is.” Of course Granville Street is the first great public space in Vancouver and it really came of age during the Olympics, but there is another such space in the region and it's a bit of a shock. It’s Scott Road and 72nd Avenue in Surrey/Delta.

The Heart of Surrey and Delta?  Scott Road and 72nd Avenue
The intersection is flanked by strip mall on all corners, yet this is where people go to celebrate in Surrey.

To be honest, it’s a bit sad that this is the heart of Surrey and Delta. Knowing that this is where the community comes together, you’d think Surrey and Delta would get their collective acts together and give the area the built form that is deserves. Certainly a public plaza and a more pedestrian friendly built form should be in order because at the end of the day, the heart of Surrey isn’t at Central City.

1 comment:

Robert W. White said...

The thing is, Surrey is a huge city. It's the largest geographical municipality in the region. So why can't there be more than 1 heart? I really think the City should embrace the different neighbourhoods that have grown within its borders, and an example of this was the TownShift competition - it really began to define the communities of Surrey, and give people a little pride.

Scott 72 has long been a point of impromptu sporting celebrations, going back to the early 90's and perhaps further. It wasn't until 4 years or so ago that they began closing down the intersection completely. But why do both Surrey and Delta continue to ignore these celebrations (apart from the police presence)? Because they don't want more people crowding into the street and blocking traffic?

Well rather than turn a blind eye, why not embrace the pride and community spirit that has risen here, and reward it with some better pedestrian environments? Heck, paint a giant canucks logo in the center of the intersection. Give it an official 'Canucks Corner' name. Complete the street grid so drivers can actually detour around the area, so it could be closed down for the entire afternoon and evening!

Organizing a party in the 'future' heart of the city will not sway those who have become accustomed to celebrating with friends and neighbours at the crossroads of their own communities (could you imagine Vancouver and Burnaby residents celebrating anywhere along Boundary Rd?)

Is it sad? I think not. Does it have potential? You bet it does. The public is already on board - no convincing required.