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Davie Street Revitalization Report

City of Vancouver LGBTQ Advisory Committee

Presented to: Vancouver City Council & West End Planning Team June 2013 Authored in consultation with the community by Barb Snelgrove, Dean Malone, and Ron Stipp. Editing by Tanya Paz & Duncan Wlodarczak

The LGBTQ Advisory Committee works with Vancouver City Council to enhance access for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer communities to fully participate in City services. The LGBTQ Advisory Committee:

Exchanges information with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer(LGBTQ) communities and the general public about relevant programs and issues of interest Engages in outreach to the LGBTQ communities to disseminate information and encourage participation Works co-operatively with other civic agencies whose activities affect LGBTQ communities, including initiating and developing relevant projects Provides input to City Council and city staff about issues of concern, including matters that require action by the City Acts as a resource for staff doing public involvement processes

In November 2012, a sub-committee of the advisory committee was formed including Barb Snelgrove, Dean Malone, and Ron Stipp, to be involved in the City of Vancouvers West End Community Planning process to ensure the opinions and ideas of queer communities would be reflected in the plan pertaining to Davie Village.

What Did We Do?

The Davie Street Revitalization subcommittee of the LGBTQ Advisory Committee reached out to a variety of stakeholders, including small business owners, retail outlets, restaurants and bars. The sub-committee also consulted the West End Business Improvement Association (WEBIA), Qmunity, The Vancouver Pride Society, other community organizations, residents, queer community leaders and members; and civic, provincial and federal elected officials. The sub-committee also participated in a number of West End Community Planning Walkshops to generate ideas and share directions to date from our consultations. The purpose of these consultations was to get a sense of how we continue to recognize the successes of Davie Village while building upon these values to shape a future as a more meaningful and exciting neighbourhood. Within the deliverables of the overall committee, the consultations focused on Davie Village as a queer historical hub, while recognizing that the Queer Davie Village exists within a diverse community of many micro-neighbourhoods. The results of these consultations are summarized in this report which includes 33 recommendations for the revitalization of Davie Village. The report is not meant to represent all issues facing the West End, Davie Village or queer communities but rather identifies some key issues that need to be included within the West End Plan scheduled to go before Vancouver City Council in the Fall of 2013. It is also recognized that there is much more consultation work to be done with queer communities to expand and enhance the recommendations in this report.

How Did We Get Input?

Those consulted were asked questions pertaining to the current state of Davie Village, the history of the community, and how the future of the village could be envisioned. Specific questions were also followed by general conversations and idea-generating sessions.

What Did We Learn?

The fabric of our West End community is strengthened by our queer communities which are diverse, and are reflective of the many multiethnic, multicultural, socio-economic, and gender variant residents of Vancouver. Given the opportunity to flourish, the West End can be a model for other fabulous queer neighbourhoods throughout Vancouver and internationally. Vancouver's Davie Village can have a future where it is considered a
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queer destination on par with Manchester, Amsterdam, or San Francisco, just to name a few of those that are recognized by queer communities as world attractions. All those consulted overwhelmingly agreed that a vibrant Davie Village is essential and that its queer identity must continue to be recognized, preserved, and enhanced. Those consulted were also clear that increasing involvement and engagement of residents and visitors with our queer communities is paramount to the success of our future Davie Village neighbourhood. We want those who live here to eat, play, shop, and work here, while including those who want to visit our vibrant neighbourhood.

Davie Street and the Davie Village Today

Participants had insights and opinions concerning the physical condition of Davie Street today. These included: It looks a little rundown. The sidewalks are too narrow. Replace the trees with ones that are more appropriate. There needs to be a general upgrade and clean up. "There are growing congregations of intoxicated transient peoples sitting and blocking sidewalk access." A large majority stressed that something needs to be done to make the street and the Davie Village a more attractive place to live, shop, and play. If the status quo remains, there are fears that the area will continue to deteriorate and fewer people will see it as a place to gather, meet friends, and enjoy. Queer communities in Davie Village have experienced several losses of safe gathering spaces over recent years. Although the village is still generally attractive and safe for queer people, limited capacities in bars, clubs, and queer restaurants deters people from coming to the Village. There is also a general lack in diversity of queer places to gather. Those that remain are mostly centred around alcohol and there is an absence of spaces for queer youth, queer families, and queer older adults to gather. It is also recognized that although some gay men may find Davie Village welcoming, there are other allied queer communities that do not find Davie Street to be welcoming or of interest to their community.

Identifying Davie Village

Many people we spoke with promoted the idea of creating something that identifies the distinct queer elements of Davie Village. Some ideas: Build an archway to introduce Davie Village, similar to the gate in Chinatown. Create a structure in the middle of the village. Designate Bute and Davie as the centre of the village. "Keep the rainbow banners." "We need queer historical markers." There were numerous ideas about where to build queer identifying structures and markers. Based on these suggestions, the following are recommended.

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Queer Identifying and Public Space Recommendations: R1. Build a structure near Bute Street that arches over Davie Street and/or an archway or structure at Davie and Burrard. R2. Install larger pride flags interspersed through the community. R3. Install one huge pride flag in the centre of the Village. R4. Convert the portion of Bute Street from Davie Street south to the alley into a pedestrian only/garden area where people can gather, create, and watch. This area could be used by local artists, entertainers and community groups to offer a variety of neighbourhood events. Since there is no specifically purposed queer community space our community space needs to span across Davie What We Need: Village through the utilization of public spaces. Bute Street can become Although it is difficult to influence the living queer community centre. the commercial market and what R5. Include Queer sports organizations in programming Bute Street garden activities. R6. Design sidewalk markers such as tiling design that reflecting queer diversity. R7. Include a queer history walk along Davie Street. R8. Install queer specific intersection tiling, cross-walks, sidewalk murals, and wall/post history plaques. R9. Consider draping lighting across streets combined with tree and other canopy lighting. R10. Sculpted monuments that might include lighting. R11. Encourage the use of programmable LED lighting.
businesses and organization ultimately establish themselves on Davie Street, there were a number of specific wishes identified. These included: Financial Institutions More non-franchise, diverse options for eating and drink More places to gather socially Independent business with few franchises Fine dining Diverse price points Social enterprise opportunities Clothing stores Coffee Shops (non-franchise) Deli & Butcher Cafe's with outdoor space Queer Centre with queer specific programming including queer youth & older adults programs Niche gathering spaces that are more intimate than large bars More back alley patios Front streets on alley side Easier for businesses to obtain special permits on the alleys Cafes on weekends in the alley Non-alcohol focused gathering spaces, dry spaces Pool hall Historical archive space for queer history. Boutique Hotel Hotel accommodations

Business Development And Tourism

Marketing Davie Village as a queer tourist destination will bring economic benefit to the community. Once a distinctive atmosphere is created then it will attract business to support the queer fabric of Davie Village. Many metropolitan centres throughout the world, such as Amsterdam, San Francisco and Manchester, enjoy vibrant queer communities which have become attractions for all tourists and not just those identifying as LGBTQ. A revitalized Davie Village needs to have a distinctive queer vibe and voice. For many we spoke to, revitalization of the Davie Village meant that we spoke to that the queerness of Davie Street is more than just the Pride Festival and Parade weekend, which only some of our communities identify with. There is a general interest and desire for more queer events throughout the year on the streets, with an emphasis on using a re-purposed public space at Bute and Davie.

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Business Development and Tourism Recommendations: R12. Create West End signature events surrounding celebrated holidays and festivals including Mardi-Gras, Oktoberfest, Halloween, Fat Tuesday, Easter, Sports Day Event, and Community Subject Matter panel events. These dont always include street closures but would involve local businesses in programming these community experiences. R13. Encourage the establishment of specialty stores, realizing that we need a more diverse business mix to respond to the funky and fun atmosphere of a revitalized Davie Village. R14. Conduct a review of other cities where an historical queer village exists within prime commercial/entertainment districts to examine successful business models.

How Do We Get around? - Traffic Flow in a Pedestrian Friendly Neighbourhood

Residents of the West End enjoy being able to access businesses and services by walking and cycling. Increased traffic on Davie Street in recent years is a significant concern for Davie Village customers and suppliers alike. Limited access to street parking is an issue yet public parking garages are underused. Undoubtedly, parking will be a major issue when revitalizing the area. Its an issue that will require alot of public major consultations and likely some compromises. It is also recognized that Davie Street has become an arterial for those seeking access to the Lions Gate Bridge via Denman Street. This flow through traffic offers little benefit to Davie Village and the West End and is major source of air and noise pollution. There is significant interest in growing a community that is less reliant on cars and more accommodating for active transportation. Traffic Flow and Parking Recommendations: Vehicular Traffic: Shorter Term R15. Eliminate rush hour parking restrictions on south and north sides of Davie to slow down traffic and allow parking all day. R16. Move or add parking meters to the back alleys. Currently there are commercial and residential permit parking allowances but these are often used by those not holding the appropriate permits. R17. Create urban pastures by adding curbside seating through the removal of a limited number of parking spaces on Davie Street. These would become areas where neighbours and visitors could meet, have lunch and drink coffee. This has been successful in other areas of Vancouver including Robson Street and Main Street. R18. Improve Way-finding - Identify where to go once you get in with signage for parking available in garages. R19. Install dedicated bike parking along Davie Street, and on Bute Street north of Davie Street where current setbacks may allow for increased capacity. Longer Term R20. Reduce Davie Street to two lanes- extend the sidewalks, and remove on-street parking on Davie Street. R21. Reverse the traffic direction on Thurlow Street from southbound to northbound, thus diverting through traffic away from Davie Street between Thurlow and Denman Streets. This also helps reduce significant traffic issues on Denman Street while almost eliminating the Davie Village from being a thoroughfare between the North Shore and the rest of the region. Pedestrian Traffic: Shorter-term R22. Construct mid-block cross walks R23. Widen sidewalks by eliminating one lane of parking on Davie Street and sharing that space on both sides
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of Davie Street. R24. Install seating (parklets) along the street where currently possible while planning for future opportunities. Seating needs to include benches but also include tables and chairs to improve the ability for people to interact with one another. Longer Term R25. Widen sidewalks with set-backs making way for safe walking spaces, seating, and patios. R26. Improve bus shelter design and positioning needs improvement so as not to block pedestrian traffic.

In the context of this report as it pertains to the West End planning process, it was generally felt that safety is not a significant issue for Davie Village, despite instances of violence toward queer communities in recent years. However it was felt that improvements could be made to enhance the security of the Davie Village. R27. Improve the accessibility of the community policing centre. Currently the centre is hidden and needs to be relocated to a more central storefront location closer to the middle of the community. Many commercial spaces have become available and this relocation should be a priority. R28. Increase police presence on the street during events and at peak times of 12:00 AM - 4:00 AM. R29. Improve street lighting, including in the alleys.

Some Sticky Problems

The subcommittee was also presented with some interesting issues, problems and challenges that are not necessarily easily addressed. These will take further consultation and research in order to move ahead as many involve public/private partnerships. 1. Shoppers Drug Mart The existing drugstore at 1125 Davie Street poses a challenge. Many believe that the existing parking area is an eyesore and detracts from the flow of the street. It is a large piece of real estate that could be used in a much more community minded way. R30. Re-development of the entire site to possibly include green space, multi-level commercial space, community gathering space, underground parking, queer community programming space and the reintroduction of Shoppers Drug Mart. R31. Establish a financial institution at a mid-point on Davie Street currently there are only high priced money kiosks; a financial institution anchor would fit well into this redeveloped space. 2. Davie Village Community Garden (at Davie/Burrard) Many people are anxiously awaiting the development plans for this lot. It is the entrance to the Davie Village and there are many lucrative possibilities. 3. Queer Community Centre Many see the creation of a new queer community centre as essential for Davie Village and queer communities and see Davie Street as its natural home. This queer community centre could also be a new home for Qmunity.

Redevelopment of Davie Street

It is inevitable for property owners on Davie Street to have increased interest in redeveloping their properties. At the same time, it is abundantly clear that those who live in the West End and those who access Davie Village are interested in preserving Davie Street as part of Vancouvers queer history, not just as part of the West End. Part of this preservation requires the protection of Davie Street in its established, historical purpose as a commercial and entertainment area that has served queer communities, our allies,

Davie Street should remain a commercial entertainment area only and housing should not be further considered for portions of this street.

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West-Enders and those who visit. Intensive re-development of Davie Street that is incompatible with the culture of Davie Village will erode the character of the West End. Protection of Davie Street does not mean that the community is looking for stagnation, but rather a confirmation of Davie Streets queer culture to form the basis of future rejuvenation. R32. Ensure Davie Village remains a commercial and entertainment district by protecting Davie Street from Burrard Street to Jervis Street through a heritage conservation and/or entertainment district designation to be included within the West End plan. This designation would need to include policies that include incentives for property owners to adequately maintain and enhance their properties recognizing the potential for limited redevelopment opportunities beyond current use. R33. Conduct further consultation to include additional queer and non-queer community stakeholders to ensure plans for any redevelopment of Davie Village reflect both business and community member needs.

The Future of Davie Village

Davie Village is an historic, destination spot where queer communities have gathered to socialize, entertain, and be entertained. Protecting Davie Village to ensure that established entertainment venues are maintained and enhanced is vital to our future. We need a bustling and alive entertainment district in the West End, and Davie Village is that home. With a thriving commercial district, Davie Village can be a strong complement to further residential densification of the West End away from the main commercial street. What is vitally important for everyone to understand is that queer communities in Davie Village do not claim it exclusively for our own, but rather value that we have been able to thrive in a community that includes queer and non-queer children, families, and grandparents. We welcome some of the citys largest public events including the Pride Parade and Celebration of Light. Although queer communities have grown and we have moved throughout Vancouver and other areas, we cannot lose sight of the fact that Davie Village has been queer central for almost 50 years. Queers and non-queers identify Davie Village as a historical queer cultural destination that needs to continue to be validated, valued, and enhanced. We also recognize that there is work to do within queer communities to improve the accessibility and enjoyment of Davie Village by all residents and visitors to Vancouvers West End.

Contact Us
Further information regarding the content of this report should be referred to the City of Vancouver LGBTQ Advisory Committee. Contact us by e-mail at

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