By Joseph Blake
Monday Magazine contributor
Large cities from London to Mexico City are moving to clear automotive traffic from their central cores.
Sixty-three per cent of Amsterdam’s 835,000 residents ride bikes daily on 513 kilometres of protected bike paths, and Vancouver now boasts 80 kilometres of bike lanes separated from traffic. Victoria hasn’t reached that kind of ecologically sustainable transportation network yet, but we’re working on it.
From 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Father’s Day June 16, Douglas Street, one of the busiest streets for automotive traffic in Victoria, will have its downtown blocks closed to traffic during the fifth annual Car Free YYJ .
“Car Free YYJ has become a signature event for downtown Victoria and for the region. It’s a great example of what can happen when you return the streets to people, as they once were,” says Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps. “It fits with Victoria’s values of sustainability, climate action, and building a human-scale city.”
Jeff Bray, executive director of the Downtown Victoria Business Association, said the event is expected to attract more than 35,000 people.
“For downtown Victoria, it marks the beginning of summer. It’s free, it’s fun and there’s something for all ages,” he says. “Car Free YYJ is an opportunity to remind people of how easy it is to walk around downtown. The City’s parkades will offer free parking. And there will be a free bike valet available on Pandora Avenue to accommodate cyclists.”
Car Free Day YYJ will shut down Douglas from Chatham and Caledonia streets to Courtenay Street. It’s a family-friendly event that includes Phillips’ Brewery’s all-ages beverage garden between Yates and View Streets, Sparkle Shack Body Art face painting for kids, vendors like Tidaltoys and Migrations Boutique, and Douglas Street restaurants like The Mint and The Rialto offering street food.
Atomique Productions is organizing these local businesses and the day’s musical offerings. Project manager Vanessa Leong says with more than 400 vendors, multiple stages with live music throughout the day, a silent disco and kids activities, “there is something for everyone to enjoy on Douglas Street June 16. As the official kick-off to the summer, this event highlights the best of what Victoria has to offer in the form of musicians, artisans, businesses, and local food.”
For more information, visit carfreeyyj.ca.