Downtown Public Places for People Strategy


The Downtown Public Space Strategy (DPSS) fills a policy gap in the Downtown, which lacked a public space inventory and plan. The DPSS establishes a framework for a holistic public space network as well as initiatives and capital investments over the next 30 years. Work on the DPSS began in 2017 and was approved by Council on June 9, 2020.


The Covid-19 pandemic has shown that public spaces are important to the livability of our neighbourhoods. The adoption of DPSS occurred during the pandemic. Council has directed staff to apply the principles of the Strategy to recovery initiatives, and related policy and planning initiatives.

Expanding its impact beyond Downtown, Council has directed staff to adapt the 6 DPSS strategic directions to input into City-wide policy, including the Vancouver Plan and community and area plans.


On March 20, 2017, Council directed staff to prepare a Downtown Public Space Strategy. The Strategy would focus on the Downtown Peninsula and its neighbourhoods. Downtown is the most densely populated area of Vancouver and home to over 137,000 people as well as 150,000 jobs. With population and job growth on limited land, there is increasing need for public realm assets. 

In response staff created an interdepartmental initiative named the Places for People program. The Strategy focuses on enhancing public life and placemaking. As such, developing the strategy was a multi-year process.

  • Phase 1 – Vision, Values and Favourite Places (July-August 2017)
  • Phase 2 – Public Space and Public Life Study (September 2017 – June 2018)
  • Phase 3 – Testing Ideas and Directions (July 2018)
  • Phase 4 – Confirming Directions (September 2019)

6 DPSS Strategic Directions

  • For all, by all
  • The “Right” Supply
  • Design for People
  • Day-long, Year-long
  • Nature and Resilience
  • Connecting Places

Council adopted the DPSS with the following amendments.

  • Staff be directed to report back with ideas they can implement that make public spaces welcoming for people who are homeless throughout the city
  • Staff to amend the DPSS to include a specific action to incorporate historical makers and signages to communicate the diverse and collective etho-cultural history and heritage of the city.
  • Staff to return to Council with an engagement and consultation plan prior to making recommendations for any permanent road closures that may be considered after temporary road closures.


City of Vancouver, Places for People Downtown Public Space Strategy, June 9, 2020. 

Prepared by:  VCPC Chronology Committee
Last Updated: December 14, 2020