Next Saturday, the character of Vancouver is going to change – just a little. In the neighbourhood of Triangle West, it’s going to change a lot.
Triangle West? Those are the blocks west of Thurlow, between Georgia and Hastings – often lumped in with Coal Harbour. It’s where the highrise condos seem to be rising two to a block.
It’s meant to be a distinguishable neighbourhood (it has its own street design and public art) – but it’s still so new and it has no centre. In particular, no commercial village.
That was a mistake we made when planning Coal Harbour too – you can read the details in Price Tags 88:
Planners expected the residents of Coal Harbour would walk to Robson for their shopping. Up hill. Across Georgia. A kilometre away.
Didn’t happen, wasn’t going to. So the City corrected the mistake by allowing for a new grocery store in the Cielo at Bute and Cordova –a stop along the eventual streetcar line. A major drug store is expected a few blocks south. An Italian coffee shop is pioneering. The ingredients accumulate.
Next Saturday, the grocery store opens:
I lived in Yaletown before the Urban Fare opened on Davie Street. I remember the dramatic difference. Before we had a mid-sized, full-service grocery store, we drove out of the neighbourhood to shop. The streets felt empty. Retail struggled erratically on Pacific Boulevard. Concord Pacific seemed like a gigantic stage set: stunning but lifeless.
The store opened with some brilliant hype: Parisian bread flown in at $100 a loaf. I doubt anyone ever bought any, and it soon disappeared, but the branding had been done.
Urban Fare anchored the local shopping village which began to cluster on a block of Davie in alliance with the Roundhouse Community Centre. It was really the first place you could see who lived there. Because there was a place to walk to do daily shopping, Urban Fare helped fill the streets with pedestrians. It filled the sidewalk out front. And it gave Yaletown a centre.
I suspect the same thing will happen at Cordova and Bute. Residents will have a place to walk, to get provisions, and to check out who lives among them. For the rest of us, it will give a sense of identity to an otherwise nameless neighbourhood. It kickstarts community building – and it proves why a medium-size local supermarket is indispensible.
Read more »