Its officially known as Grandview-Woodland, but most Vancouverites refer to the neighbourhood that is bounded by Broadway to the south, Burrard Inlet to the north, Clark Drive to the west and to Nanaimo Street to the east as the Commercial Drive area.
Its one of Vancouvers most diverse neighbourhoods in terms of people, housing and land use and also one of its oldest. The 448-hectare East Side neighbourhood is home to 27,297 people, according to the 2011 census, which is a decline of about 900 people from six years earlier. Similar to the rest of the city, the largest age group is 30 to 44 year olds. More than two-thirds of the area residents are renters living in low-rise apartment buildings whose median household income is $35,342 (the city average is $47,299). About 10 per cent of the population self-identify as being aboriginal.
First-time visitors to the neighbourhood likely get a good sense that Grandview-Woodland is a little different thanks to Ken Lums famous East Van cross at Clark Drive and Great Northern Way. And while there is no poodle on a pole Ã la Main Street, there is an art installation more symbolic of the area a giant blue cappuccino cup in Grandview Park (albeit one thats now a bit chipped and used as a garbage receptacle).
Indeed, the Drive, which is the heart of the area, is home to such a concentration of cafÃ©s its a marvel they can all stay in business. But each is well-patronized by its own unique clientele that makes cafÃ© hopping akin to a round-the-world trip without the need for a passport or different currency.
But its not all la dolce vita sipping espressos and cappuccinos. Because demand for new development is growing, city staff are working on an official plan to ensure that future growth in Grandview-Woodland meets the needs of the community. The area has been the centre of many protests, including one demonstration three years ago against the upgrading of Grandview Park. In recent weeks, a house under construction on East First Avenue near Victoria Drive was the target of an arsonist while some businesses have been vandalized by so-called anarchists protesting gentrification of the area. Stay tuned.