April 18, 2013

Vancouver Neighbourhoods ~ Broadway & Main (north and west)

We live, at least until the end of the month, in the Lee Building, right on the corner of Broadway and Main, two of the busiest streets in Vancouver. The larger "community" is called Mount Pleasant, though our provincial electoral district is called Vancouver Fairview.

Vancouver Fairview is about ten square kilometres in size with a population density of 5000/km. The five or six blocks nearest our building, north and west of the intersection of Broadway and Main, have a lower density; there are fewer high rises and more commercial properties around us, though all of that is changing. Development has arrived and this part of town will alter dramatically over the next few years.

For now, in spite of the storm clouds of urban development, there is an almost a prairie-like, small-town-kind-of-feel to the streets in our neighbourhood, with many low rise buildings offering a strange mix of film studio offices, barber shops and auto repair centres. There are still some factories and wholesale warehouses, from a time when that sort of thing actually happened here in abundance. The streets have an amazing Saskatchewan or Manitoba look about them and offer a glimpse of what Vancouver looked like in the past. Except this is the present.

Cafes often open during commercial business hours only and cater to the local collection of offices and businesses. There is something less than metropolitan about these wonderful restaurants, a reminder of something that has been lost with the carbon copy look-a-like chains; but then, who now knows about carbon copies? The Argo Cafe is not a carbon copy.

And through this wonderful neighbourhood, there are individual homes and old apartment buildings. There are tree lined streets and a community garden, and that strange round thing is mainly always visible, except when its view is blocked by a new condo building.

And there is something else almost always visible in this neighbourhood of increasing wealth, with new high rise condos being built, in a city where million dollar apartments sit empty, to serve as investments only. They are the cartoneros of Vancouver, in our alleys and on our streets. The neighbourhood is changing and yet some things, sometimes the most important things ....

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