One of the best memories I have from growing up is of Market Day—an annual street festival in downtown Courtenay. From a child’s perspective there was something deliciously illicit about roaming down the middle of the road and seeing my neighbourhood (and all my neighbours) from this traditionally out-of-bounds angle. The feeling that comes with my nostalgia is one of belonging—that somehow, by banishing the cars and filling the streets with friends and fun, my neighbourhood became more mine.
This is why I love taking Maia to our neighbourhood’s Car-Free Event and the various street fairs that punctuate a Vancouver summer. Sure, skipping the car is good for the environment. And purchasing a few things here and there is good for the vendors and fun for us (I still recall the momentous joy that came when I spent my allowance on a ‘Genuine Rodeo Riders Cowboy Hat’ one year and a jar of ‘Authentic Mount St. Helen’s Volcanic Ash’ the next).
But what I’m really hoping, as Maia walks down the middle of the street searching for the perfect knick-knack, is that some of that summertime magic occurs and she feels embraced by her hometown neighbourhood.
Thanks to Vancouver City Council’s Summer Spaces program, which will have car-free sections of streets in four neighbourhoods—Collingwood, Mount Pleasant, Gastown and Commercial Drive—several Sundays this summer, it looks like we’re going to have lots of opportunities to look for that magic. The plan sounds like it still has a few kinks in it—but despite the complaints, our intention is to support it.
Check out these opportunities to go play in the street:
Car-Free Vancouver Day, June 14
Commercial Drive, between Venables and 1st Ave
The Drive with celebrate with street hockey, roller disco, a Healing Garden and merry mayhem aplenty.
Main Street, between 12th Ave and 25th Ave (King Ed)
There will be seven music stages, tons of local vendors, storytelling, food, arts and crafts, and a graffiti wall.
Denman Street, between Davie and Robson
Check out the spoken word tent, dance classes, world music, community tables, parades and more.
(Various times, various locations)
Dozens of block parties will be running, and dances, performers and potlucks will be enjoyed by neighbours celebrating in the street.
Let me know what your plan is and what your favourite (or least favourite!) aspects of car-free days are.
Photos from past Car-Free Days in Vancouver by Uncleweed