A viral social media post from a concerned citizen living in Vancouver has reignited the debate over the need for better access to Granville Island.
It comes several years after a plan was initiated to solve traffic congestion by the federal agency, which manages the site.
In his Reddit post, which received nearly 2,000 upvotes over the past week, Mark Melnichuk proposes restrictions on vehicles entering the Granville Island — which is technically a peninsula — on weekends.
He says the influx of tourists returning to Vancouver after the pandemic hiatus has brought the attraction back to its "normal and broken state" of standstill car traffic.
"Granville Island is a dead-end street and receives a lot of visitors…with limited parking on site, cars are usually circling around trying to find parking," Melnichuk, who goes by the nickname "Save Granville Island" on Reddit, told host Stephen Quinn on CBC's The Early Edition.
"Just this weekend there [were] actually security guards trying to direct traffic around the island and causing a lot of frustration for everyone, especially car drivers honking at each other, honking pedestrians.
"It's just not a great experience."
Car-free weekend proposals
Melnichuk suggests two options for Granville Island to go car-free on weekends. The first is to prohibit vehicles from getting past the first pedestrian crossing under the island's welcome sign, and the second option is to allow vehicles to access the eastern part of the island through a single lane.
In the first option, all streets on the island will become pedestrian-only zones, and only employees of businesses, hotel guests, residents and emergency workers would be allowed to drive onto the island.
In the second option, a bike lane would be installed to connect to the seawall bike path and run parallel to the car lane.
Melnichuk's plans would also include Translink providing more frequent services of Route 50 to connect Granville Island with Waterfront and Olympic Village Skytrain stations, which both have parking.
He also hopes the public transit company can also revive the Olympic Line streetcar, which moved tourists and locals from Science World to Granville Island during the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, but stopped operating after only two months of service.
Granville Island déjà vu
Melnichuk's proposals are nothing new for the federally-owned Granville Island.
The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), which manages Granville Island, considered making it more pedestrian-friendly as part of the long-term plans that it laid out in 2017 for the island's future.
They also included expanding public market areas and promoting arts and culture on the island.
In order to reduce the number of cars on the island, CMHC discussed with the City of Vancouver and Translink the possibilities of reviving the Olympic Line streetcar, as well as building an elevator from the middle of the Granville Street Bridge that would lead straight to the heart of Granville Island.
Neither of these two pitches were included in Translink's 30-year regional transportation strategy. CMHC has largely relied on pay parking during some periods of the day to limit vehicle access, but it suspended this policy over the past two years of the pandemic in order to boost traffic and business.
Granville Island general manager Tom Lancaster says he hasn't talked to Melnichuk, but he welcomes the public debate on how to make the tourist attraction more accessible to pedestrians of all ages and abilities.
Lancaster says Melnichuk's proposal to close the entire western part of the island for pedestrians "would absolutely work" and his corporation is studying its feasibility — yet not without concern.
"The worst thing you can do though is [to] have a bunch of unintended impacts to business or any of the artists, or any of the working partners of the island, so we've got to be really careful what we do," he said.
Lancaster says CMHC is studying the positive and negative impacts of tour buses entering the island.