In response to an article earlier this month in the Georgia Straight titled Anxiety grows over EcoDensity in Vancouver, sustainable community guru Spring Gillard got her letter published in this week’s issue. EcoDensity’s effect on Kitsilano has been chronicled on Kitsilano.ca in the past – everything from the loss of Touch of Sweden on West 4th to the proposed addition of a Home Depot on West Broadway.
One point that doesn’t seem to be brought up very often in this EcoDensity conversation is how devastating it is to small retailers, the very people who make a community livable. When the old buildings are torn down so the arterial corridor can be developed, the rents become too high for the small operations to sustain, so the big chains move in. It has been happening on Fourth Avenue in Kitsilano for some time now. My shoemaker had to move, my favourite dry cleanerâ€”who did amazing mendingâ€”as well, and others. We also lost some affordable housing on the second storeys of the previous buildings. There is so much talk about creating “livable communities”, but if I have to go to Metrotown or Oakridge to get my shoes fixed, then doesn’t that defeat the purpose? We also lose the flavour of the neighbourhoodâ€”what made it attractive in the first place. Kitsilano is fast losing its funkiness. We now have a two-block stretch of maternity, baby shops, and Lululemon look-alikes. I doubt very much that it is the “locals” who are sustaining these stores. The only argument I have heard is “Let the market decide”, one I will not be buying into.
Last modified: April 25, 2008