Revitalization or gentrification? Strathcona braces for change

One of oldest neighbourhoods in Vancouver, Strathcona has seen plenty of changes through its history.

“If you walk the lanes of Strathcona you’ll see it was the original mixed-use neighbourhood,” says Vancouver councillor Geoff Meggs, who lived in the area two decades ago.

“They would have an industrial space, a commercial frontage and a home, all on the same lot.”

But property values in Strathcona, as everywhere else in Vancouver, continue to rise. Zoning rules put in place years ago continue to gradually densify the neighbourhood. The new St. Paul’s Hospital and expected closure of the viaducts promise to bring more traffic to the area. Long-time residents wonder what the future will hold.

“How do you maintain the fabric of the Strathcona community, that brand, while there’s some change going on?” asks Bob Rennie, the famed ‘Condo King’ of Vancouver, who is moderating a discussion on the revitalization of Strathcona this weekend.

Story continues below advertisement
“[There’s] that sensitive borderline between gentrification and change, and as some new direction is found that, [you hope] you’re not a victim of your own success, that you lose the fabric.”

Rennie’s panel discussion this Saturday is part of a “Meet the Makers” exposition, sponsored by the Strathcona Business Improvement Association. It will give small businesses and residents alike a chance to discuss changes to their neighbourhood, and how to balance the march of development with the needs of the community.

“Do we want to see…people who are facing a lot of barriers moved out? No, we don’t to see that. Do we want to see small businesses that have been thriving for decades forced out? We don’t want to see that. Does this community need some investment and revitalization? I think it’s fair to say that,” says Joji Kumagai, Executive Director of the Strathcona Business Improvement Association.

“Businesses have made it here, they’ve been able to thrive and be successful here. As change happens, we want to ensure that people who have been part of this community for a long time are part of that conversation.”

Story continues below advertisement

WATCH: Geoff Meggs discusses Stathcona’s past and future