New Vancouver shopping district name rankles residents

Hastings North BIA renames commercial strip 'East Village'

Residents are unhappy the Hastings North Business Improvement Association has rebranded the commercial strip of East Hastings Street between Renfrew and Commercial Drive, formerly known as Hastings-Sunrise, East Village.

Aviva Savelson doesnt like the name.

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We have our own identity here, so why would we want to take on a name that very much sounds like its trying to be New York, the area resident said.

She questions whether businesses should be able to change the entrance to a neighbourhood without consulting residents. Even though its just the business district where the banners are going up, it does have an impact on the entire neighbourhood, Savelson said.

She and two other urban planners formed the Hastings-Sunrise Preservation Committee and organized public and business opinion polls about the change.

Savelson said they received 205 polls from the public as of March 30 and respondents resoundingly oppose the name East Village. She said 72 per cent of respondents want the area to continue to be called Hastings-Sunrise.

The preservation committee distributed flyers, advertised the poll on Facebook and Twitter, set up a table on the street and spoke to about 80 passersby. Several people said that they were happy that we were creating a space for them to give their opinion, Savelson said.

They also polled businesses. Of 19 respondents, 47 per cent didnt agree with the decision to rename the area East Village, 37 per cent agreed with the name change and 16 per cent were indifferent, according to Savelson.

The Hastings North BIA not only includes East Hastings but also runs north on Commercial Drive to Powell Street and east on Powell Street to Semlin Street. It includes Hastings-Sunrise and Grandview-Woodland.

Weve been operating for 10 years and the areas changing and its part of a new promotional and marketing strategy, again, for the businesses, said Patricia Barnes, executive director of Hastings North BIA.

The BIA spent a year and approximately $20,000 on branding. The association hired a branding firm and distributed 600 surveys to business and commercial property owners asking whether they supported re-branding. Barnes said 100 surveys were returned with most of the respondents indicating neutral feelings about a change.

She said East Village was adopted to reflect the village atmosphere of the area thats rich with independent businesses.

We had heard some talk in the past that Grandview-Woodland didnt appreciate our commercial district being branded Hastings-Sunrise, so we decided to go with something that was completely different and we are the East Village within the two neighbourhoods, she added.

The BIA and preservation committee plan to meet to discuss the results of the public poll, which has no closing date.

Barnes doesnt believe the BIA would do anything differently if it were to undertake re-branding again. Controversy has drawn attention from those whod overlooked the area.

Hastings-Sunrise resident Roanna Zuker started a Vancouver East Village website in February to boost small businesses before the new name for the commercial area was announced. She said shes received hate mail from those angry about the new name. Savelson has heard that some have shortened the new moniker to E-Vil.

A call to the city was not returned.

Twitter: @Cheryl_Rossi

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