Neha Patil (Editor)

Car Free Day Vancouver

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Car Free Day Vancouver

Car Free Day Vancouver is a community-based, volunteer-run event in Vancouver, British Columbia, which closes busy streets to car traffic and sets up day-long community festivals to promote active transportation, sustainability, and public spaces. It is similar to other Car-Free Days held around the world. It has traditionally taken place once per year on the third Sunday in June (Father's Day). In recent years it has expanded to events on both the Saturday and Sunday, in addition to an event in North Vancouver in August. The neighbourhoods involved often host smaller block parties in conjunction with a large street festival to celebrate. This day eliminates cars from the event sites along major streets and encourages people in these communities to interact with each other in the spirit of reducing carbon emissions. The larger street festivals include many non-profit organizations, artisans, artists, businesses, and food vendors. Some festivals also include live performances ranging from musical guests, to spoken word, to dance and more. The goals of these events are to remind people of their ecological impact on the city, to decrease dependence on personal vehicles as transportation within the city, to encourage active and alternative forms of transportation, and to help people see streets as public spaces for all.

Contents

History

Vancouver Car Free Day began with the Commercial Drive Festival in 2005. The Festival was the start of a community wide event known as Car Free Day Vancouver. It was run and organized completely by volunteers, consisting of 30 main organizers along with 300 more volunteers. In its first year of operation, over 25,000 people were in attendance to celebrate this community event. The idea was in response to the BC provincial government's Gateway Program, which aimed to significantly reduce congestion into the City of Vancouver. The first annual Car Free Vancouver Day took place in 2005, on Sunday June 15, and included different festivals taking place in Kitsilano, Commercial Drive, Main Street, and the West End.

Local involvement

There are now four neighbourhoods that regularly participate in Car Free Day: Kitsilano, Main Street, Commercial Drive and West End. There is a fifth event organized by the Car Free Vancouver Society in North Vancouver.

Commercial Drive is the origin of Vancouver's Car Free Day, which first took place in 2005. The 2015 festival marked the 11th anniversary of Car Free Day on Commercial Drive. The #20 Downtown/Victoria Bus, which provides service along Commercial Drive, is rerouted from Commercial Drive around the festivities.

The Main Street Car Free Day event is the largest of Vancouver's Car Free Day events. The event hosts a variety of entertainment including local artisans, musical performers, spoken word, and food vendors. The Main Street Car Free Day spans 21 blocks, from Broadway Avenue to 30th Avenue, creating car-free zones suitable for smaller block parties. Attendance at Vancouver's Car Free Day events has been increasing year-over-year and in 2015, attendance at all four sites totalled 400,000.

The West End holds similar events to both the Commercial Drive and Main Street Car Free Days on the Saturday preceding these two events. This event allows for the festival to overtake a main street with performances, vendors and artisans.

The community in Kitsilano takes a slightly different approach to the popular Vancouver Car Free Day. Instead of closing major streets to host the festival, the neighbours organize and host their own block parties. This gives people the chance to come together as a community and spend time interacting, playing games, and relaxing in an otherwise busy city. The activities at these block parties differ greatly since each event is entirely independent of the next, but popular choices include road hockey, music and dancing, and relaxing in chairs or on couches. In 2012 Kitsilano hosted a total of 16 block parties, followed by 13 in 2013. Kitsilano Car Free Day is supported by the Car Free Day Vancouver Society, Vancouver Foundation, and the City of Vancouver. The organizers and hosts of these block parties receive small grants given out by the Vancouver Foundation through their Neighbourhood Small Grants program.

References

Car Free Day Vancouver Wikipedia


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