Can an independent corner store still survive in Vancouver? And, if not, what does that imply about the state of the city's residential neighborhoods? These questions were the topic of a recent discussion led by Andy Yan, an urban planner for Bing Thom Architects.
"We might not give much thought to these oases in the urban desert, but their existence can improve a neighbourhood and raise property values," writes Kerry Gold. "Because they succeed best in areas with diverse incomes and urban density, they represent an equilibrium, the happy existence of a multi-layered community. There is a correlation between the corner store and affordable housing. They go together."
But in Vancouver, "corner stores are disappearing from neighbourhoods, with 82 per cent in non-residential areas," worrying planners, developers, and business owners alike.
“The corner store is a sign that things are in balance,” says Jake Fry, a director of non-profit Small Housing B.C. “There is something about income and the corner store and population — they have to be balanced properly. It really is the biggest telling thing of a dynamic neighbourhood. It’s like the canary in the coal mine.”