City Proposal Envisions Turning Blood Alley Square Into New Event Space

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Blood Alley Square

Last week, the City of Vancouver held an open house and revealed a completely new concept idea for Blood Alley Square and Trounce Alley, which are located in Gastown.

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This idea was first proposed three years ago and now it’s one step closer to reality.

Downtown Eastside Local Area Plan

The rehabilitation of Blood Alley Square builds upon the Downtown Eastside Plan (2014). The following Plan policies were defined in this process and pertain to Blood Alley Square/Trounce Alley:

  • Retain commercial character.
  • Involve the local community in developing a program that supports the DTES identity.
  • Enhance the distinct identity of the historic area’s laneways.
  • Explore opportunities for community access and programming in plazas.
  • Encourage community stewardship and programming of plazas and green spaces.
  • Ensure Blood Alley has infrastructure to support a range of events.
  • Identify, preserve and improve places with social and cultural meaning.
  • Encourage protection of trees.

Design Principles

The rehabilitation of Blood Alley Square is built upon the following principles based on the DTES Local Area Plan , Social Impact Objectives and responses from public engagement:

  • Creation of an urban space that is diverse, dynamic and welcoming;
  • Conservation and / or reinterpretation of important heritage characteristics is vital;
  • Retention of mature existing trees where possible;
  • The provision of shared loading for all residents and businesses;
  • Improved function of solid waste management;
  • Stronger connection between the Square and adjacent developments; and
  • A stewardship strategy that encourages opportunities for everyone to use the space.

As a National Historic Site, Trounce Alley is one of the oldest original roadways in Vancouver.

The materials used typically in Gastown are brick, granite, cobbles, iron bollards and light standards. Along with the trees, these have been identified as key character defining elements in the Statement of Significance for Blood Alley Square/Trounce Alley.

Blood Alley Square Redesign

Numerous aspects of this public space will be rehabilitated, restored, and repurposed.

They are as follows:

Rehabilitate:

  • The granite cobble in Trounce Alley was laid in the 1970s replicating the traditional pattern found in the older lanes in the city. These will be re-laid throughout the Square.
  • Salvaged red bricks are common throughout Gastown. The high-fired bricks lend an authentic texture to the alley’s reconstruction and will define pedestrian crossings along the alley.

Restore:

  • Wherever possible, mature trees will be retained.
  • Heritage globe lights will be restored and re-painted to historic style

Repurpose:

  • Milled stainless steel is used in the site furnishings and railings, which hints at the former semi-industrial uses that are part of the neighbourhood’s industrial history.
  • New stairs and retaining walls will be board-form cast in place concrete; another industrial material commonly found throughout Gastown.

Photo: City of Vancouver

Photo: City of Vancouver

Proposed Plan

A more usable, inviting space is imagined for Blood Alley Square. Here’s what it’ll include:

Photo: City of Vancouver

One of the elements of this proposed plan is multi-purpose open space. This includes loading docks for local businesses, Trounce Alley activation, and a performance stage and special event storage area.

If you’d like to learn more about this project, here’s a video that highlights some key points:

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