Pride: Davie Street celebrates its LGBT history

Centred on Davie Street, roughly between Burrard and Jervis, Davie Village is recognized as the vibrant, happening hub for Vancouvers LGBTQ community, and is long identified as a historical queer cultural destination.

Residents and the community alike agree that it needs to continue being validated, valued and enhanced to ensure it grows, flourishes and prospers, putting it on par with other major queer destinations such as San Francisco and Amsterdam.

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Home to many shops, restaurants, hotels, bars and clubs, and known for being the Pride Festival mecca, it caters to a variety of customers and exists within a very diverse community of micro-neighborhoods, providing a centralized meeting place for people to live, shop and play.

As part of the West End Community Planning Process, a subcommittee of the city's LGBTQ Advisory Committee (which includes Barb Snelgrove, Dean Malone and Ron Stipp) was formed to ensure that a vital queer voice and presence be included in any future planning/development of the North Davie section of the West End.

Numerous interviews and discussions took place with community and business leaders over a period of months as to how best develop the area AND preserve its queer identity. The Davie Street Revitalization Report was drafted containing more than 30 recommendations, and will be presented to Vancouver City Council in the fall.

The recommendations included suggestions for queer-identifying Davie Village, business development and tourism, reducing traffic flow in a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood, and improvements to existing public and community safety services. As well, concerns about any intensive redevelopment of Davie Street were voiced to ensure that the historical purpose as a commercial and entertainment area isnt threatened. Those who live in the West End and access Davie Village are interested in preserving Davie Street as part of Vancouvers queer history.

The consensus was overwhelming: beautifying the Village as well as creating something that identifies its distinct queer element, marketing Davie Village as a queer destination to bring increased economic benefit to the community (looking beyond Davie Streets queerness as more than just the Pride Festival and Parade Weekend), and creating urban pastures by adding curbside seating to encourage the gathering and meeting of residents and visitors. It was also evident that increasing involvement and engagement of residents and visitors with the queer communities is paramount in making the Village an even more meaningful and exciting gaybourhood.

We need a bustling and alive entertainment district in the West End, and Davie Village is that home. With a thriving commercial district, Davie Village can be a strong complement to further residential densification of the West End away from the main commercial street.

Major concerns

area looking a bit rundown, with a general cleanup and upgrade needed

theres a growing number of intoxicated transient peoples sitting and blocking sidewalk access

there is a lack in diversity of queer places to gather (most are centered around alcohol)

there is absence of spaces for queer youth, families and older adults to gather

Recommendations

build or install some type of historical queer identifier/marker for Davie Village (more/larger Pride flags, or an archway)

create more public gathering spaces with installation of seating (parklets)

create West End signature events to draw more tourists

encourage establishment of specialty stores to highlight the diverse, funky and fun atmosphere of a revitalized Davie Village

reduce Davie St to two-lanes, extend sidewalks, install dedicated bike parking and eliminate rush hour parking restrictions

improve access to community policing centre

Specific wishes

financial institutions, more independent businesses (fewer franchises), deli and butcher, more diverse price points, queer centre with queer-specific programming, hotel accommodations

For a complete list of Vancouver Pride events see here.

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