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Council to vote on exploring Vancouver road closures to boost physical distancing

Vancouver council to vote on possible road closures to enhance physical distancing
Vancouver city councillor Lisa Dominato wants to explore the idea of fully or partially closing some municipal streets to make more room for physical distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Paul Johnson reports.

A Vancouver city councillor wants to explore the idea of fully or partially closing some municipal streets to make more room for physical distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Non-Partisan Association (NPA) Coun. Lisa Dominato will bring a motion to council on Tuesday asking staff to look at opportunities to “reallocate” space in a way that is friendlier to shared use by pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles.

Stanley Park being closed to cars
Stanley Park being closed to cars

The motion suggests high-use greenways and streets next to parks as possible options.

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“The ongoing pandemic necessitates that the city reallocate road space on an urgent basis now and develop plans for mobility and space use as part of our post-COVID-19 recovery and new economy,” states Dominato’s motion.

Provincial health guidelines call for people to maintain two-metres distance from others while in public, and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has pointed to potential road closures in some areas as a way of expanding safe public space.

Nearby Seattle decided last week to permanently close 32 kilometres of roads to through traffic, noting that the pandemic response could be long-lasting.

Metro Vancouver shuts down Langley park, leaves open possibility of closing more
Metro Vancouver shuts down Langley park, leaves open possibility of closing more

Those roads remain open to residents, delivery drivers, garbage and recycling workers and emergency response vehicles.

Earlier this month, the city worked with the park board to close Stanley Park to vehicle traffic as well as close eastbound lanes on Beach Avenue, along English Bay, from Hornby Street to Stanley Park Drive.

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Vancouver has also implemented small-scale road reallocation on major streets to create safe places for people to queue up for stores.