Forgotten Alley Experiment Provides Route to Vancouver's Green Ambitions

Launched a decade ago, Vancouver's 'country lane' demonstration project proved how the city's back alleys could provide attractive and accessible open spaces. As the city seeks ways to provide more green space, it's time to revisit the experiment.
July 22, 2013, 10am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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One initiative being considered to help Vancouver reach its goal of becoming the world’s greenest city "is the improvement of its residential alleyways, from mundane, paved side streets filled with detritus and parked cars to spiffy pedestrian-friendly avenues interspersed with vegetable gardens and micro-parks," writes Brian Hutchinson. "The push is on, with city-managed open houses last month. But these are pie-in-the sky discussions with inscrutable visual presentations."

"A former city planner wonders why Vancouver doesn’t just revisit a simple experiment launched a decade ago; it saw several back alleys transformed into grassy and accessible 'country lanes.'" 

"Most Vancouverites don’t even know they exist [only three were completed], but those whose homes back onto the greened-up lanes appreciate them a great deal," notes Hutchinson. "Surveys conducted among residents living alongside the experimental lanes indicated a majority were very satisfied, finding them attractive and more useful than paved routes."

"Later this month, [Mike] Klassen [conservative pundit and country lane neighbor] is planning to hold a 10-year 'anniversary celebration' in recognition of his beloved back lane. He’d like to see Vancouver city council revisit the experiment, which he thinks compares well to the more complicated lane way initiatives now being pursued." 

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