On Wednesday evening I attended the latest in the series of themed workshops connected to the ongoing Grandview Community Plan. This one was about Transportation and I found it to be a most valuable exercise. There were five tables — Motor Vehicles, Cycling, Walking, Transit and Commercial Streets — and I took part in the Walking, Transit and Commercial Streets discussions.
During the Walking session, many people agreed that the lanes are a vital part of Grandview’s walkability profile; that they provide both shortcuts and a different perspective. It was generally agreed that they would be even better if they were better maintained and tidied up.
In the session on Commercial Streets — which for us means Commercial Drive and East Hastings Street — I managed to put forward an idea I have been pondering for a while: that the retail area of Commercial Drive be expanded into the lanes on either side of the main street. This would increase the business area thus making available a broader selection of shops and services, it would allow owners of many businesses on the Drive to increase the density of their properties without altering the currrent Commercial Drive streetscape, and would bring even more diversity and interest to the Drive.
Obviously this wouldn’t work along the whole length of the Drive, but there are blocks where the Commercial Drive side of the back lanes are not filled with buildings and could accommodate a lively trade. Also obviously, this will take some serious adjustments to the current zoning, and an acceptance by both merchants and residential owners backing on to the lanes. But this might provide a creative solution to densification desired by the BIA without damage to an important heritage street.
The idea seemed to be welcomed by quite a few at the workshop, so maybe it is worth talking about.