Temporary changes made to Deep Cove’s main street during the summer to help with social distancing and to reduce overcrowding during the COVID-19 pandemic could become permanent.
The District of North Vancouver is set to apply for $4 million in funding to transform lower Gallant Avenue into a flexible outdoor plaza that changes to suit the needs of the community through the seasons.
“The Livable Deep Cove COVID Resilience project proposes to create a shared street on lower Gallant Avenue between Panorama Drive and Banbury Road that will provide an open, flexible public space that allows for social distancing and safe outdoor socializing,” the report to council states.
“The project is designed so that the space will be flexible to address different community needs throughout the year, such as increased seating in the summer, intermittent full closures for festivals and markets, and increased parking space in the winter.”
Council voted in support of the project and of district staff submitting an application for a grant through the Canada Infrastructure Program - COVID-19 Resilience Infrastructure Stream at its general meeting on Jan. 11.
The proposal includes new paving throughout the area, updated street lighting, underground soil cells to mitigate peak storm flow and promote tree health, landscaping, and removable bollards.
Gallant Avenue summer pedestrian pilot supported
In the report to council, Erin Moxon, a project engineer for the district’s project development services, highlighted the pedestrian pilot over the summer had been received well by the community.
In May, the district closed the eastbound parking lane on Gallant Avenue to create extra pedestrian space for social distancing. Despite this, crowding continued and in August, the district also closed the eastbound vehicle lane to provide more space and tables for free public use.
“The space has and continues to be very well used,” Moxon wrote in the council report.
“Public feedback from a nine-week online survey between August and October indicates nearly 80 per cent of respondents are in favour of the pedestrian area and 70 per cent feel it should be made permanent.
“Staff had in-person conversations with business owners in July, prior to the pedestrian pilot implementation, and again in September. One hundred per cent of businesses are in favour of the pilot project with overwhelming support to extend it through the winter with several advocating for permanent changes.”
If funding is granted, the project will begin on lower Gallant in early September and extend through to the end of December 2021. It’s expected it will cause minor traffic disruptions on lower Gallant and construction noise during that period. As well as this project, the Gallant Storm Sewer Replacement project will be under construction on upper Gallant between April and fall this year with the Naughton Avenue detour in place over a four-month period.
Moxon said further consultation with residents and business owners would take place as the design process progresses and funding is secured.
The Canadian and British Columbian governments have committed to invest up to $80.29 million in B.C. for the COVID-19 Resilience Infrastructure grant stream in response to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on communities across the province.
If the project is not successful for CVRIS funding, the timing of the project will be reviewed against other district priorities and available resources.
Elisia Seeber is the North Shore News’ Indigenous and civic affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.