Bourgeois Populism

New pizza place opening soon on Victoria Drive.

I was telling a friend today that I’m a mixture of the bourgeois and the populist. Well, neither of those words is a perfect match for me, but that’s what I came up with today. My blog reflects this, with my definition of community encompassing everything from social justice issues to local shopping. One must embrace the contradictions of one’s nature, I suppose.

Sometimes though, the mixture can be a little hard to handle.

Today, I took the photo at the top of the post. I always have contradictory feelings when I see a new restaurant starting up in the neighbourhood. I like the expansion of food choices within walking distance, but fear the trend these openings represent. Right now, we have a number of produce vendors, food markets, and small merchants along the Drive. These are the sort of businesses that get pushed out with gentrification.

Our neighbourhood also seems to have been promised to developers for mid-rise, suburban-style condos. The number of rezonings approved by council is rapidly increasing. Long-time residents, who support independent businesses, are being pushed out of the neighbourhood. I suspect they will be replaced with folks with a suburban perspective, along with greater demand for chain stores and restaurants.

I like my mixed-income, (somewhat) diverse neighbourhood, that’s still able to support a video store, an old school diner, and a walkable street culture. Decrying the expensive, car-centric housing developments that are slated for this area gets one dismissed as an out-of-touch NIMBY. But what about the community that exists here? Surely there’s a way to preserve it, one of the most functional neighbourhoods in the city, while making room for new businesses that add to the ambiance?

I suppose not.

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4 thoughts on “Bourgeois Populism

  1. Great point of view Teresa. We are a little north and then east of where you are at Hastings-Sunrise. From our experience as former Drive residents, we feel that there is a much stronger sense of community at where we are, and that’s one of the reasons we have opted to open our little bakery in our own hood. We choose to preserve the special sense of community as a neighbourhood bakery by collaborating with long time merchants in our own ‘backyard’. Luckily, we have the opportunity to work with many like-minded individuals being in this part of town. We bake pies for a popular cafe a block away, bread for a 40-year old Italian meat/charcouterie shop 10 metres away, more bread for an Italian Deli/market a little further east and special bread and pies for our neighbourhood seafood cheese shop. I must say what sets Hastings-Sunrise apart from other inner city neighbourhoods is that a lot of these ‘old’ establishments are being happily taken over by the second or even third generations of the proprietors, just like their Moms and Pops or grandparents, they are not afraid of working long hours and do what it takes to refine or modernize the craft of the artisan approach that they have adopted. The result is that we have close connections and we take ownership in our community, and we all benefit as residents by having better choices when we keep these small shops alive. And as a small business owner, I have good knowledge of where I can refer my customers to when they want to purchase good quality goods and services.

    Lucia

    http://www.eastvillagebakery.com

  2. Thanks for the comment, Lucia. I love how Hastings-Sunrise has kept its long-time businesses, while like-minded businesses have sprung up along side them. Your description of the synergy between merchants and the sense of place felt by residents and business owners is really lovely.

    I’m a fan of your bakery, by the way – you have great baked goods.

  3. It’s a terrible irony when there’s an influx of new people to a neighbourhood, attracted there by its charms which are threatened by virtue of the fact that people have moved there for that very reason…..

    The key to preserving the character of neighbourhoods lies in the hands of city councils with the backbone to pass by-laws that support communities and small businesses and that discourage out-of-character development. Unfortunately, we don’t seem to have that kind of city council in Vancouver.

  4. I am so behind on my blog reading, especially my favorite ones like yours that I don’t want to just read hurriedly and move on. I certainly hope there is a way to preserve neighborhoods like yours. I understand your mixed feelings about restaurants like this one moving in and sometimes they are so transitory that they don’t even leave a mark behind…I am going to be thinking about that as I go out in my suburban neighborhood and shop at local shops today. I try to frequent them as much as possible, not just the one day a year that is designated as such.

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