As Vancouver’s original Downtown founded in 1867, Gastown survived a period of decline and disrepair following the 1960s, today known as a tourist and commercial hub, and home to a number of the city’s most prominent high-tech businesses and startups.
“Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts.”
– Arnold Bennett
It’s one of the most densely populated neighborhoods in Western Canada, comprising 35% of Downtown Vancouver‘s peninsula, and with the City under significant development pressure, its existing residential and commercial stock is undergoing a substantial turnover. The concern: does this come at the cost of neighborhood character as change brings new height and density increases to the community?
As a resident since the 2010 Olympics, I’ve witnessed this eclectic community transform, drawing an increasing number of visitors to its highly desirable amenities. The lingering scent of Olympia’s greek food, peaceful sounds of chirping birds, and Denman Street intersection road rage from “over-walkability”, are all atmospheric staples. Nowadays, the sounds of excavators and dumptrucks, mainstream commercial establishments such as Burger King and C-Lovers taking over beloved local shops, and multiple re-zoning permits, makes one curious as to what’s in store for this developing urban landscape.
The West End neighborhood was officially established in 1969, and is a 204 hectare area bounded by Georgia Street to the North, Denman Street to the West, and Burrard Street to the East. The population is approximately 44,543 (Census 2011), with the majority (48%) in the 20-39 age group, at an average of 218 persons occupying each hectare.