Conflict brewing over proposed tasting room in Strathcona

WATCH: Some families who live on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside are speaking out against the city's decision to approve a brewery and tasting room right across the street from a community centre. Critics say it's the wrong place to put it, but the brewery believes otherwise. Kristen Robinson explains.

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Vancouver’s ever-expanding number of craft breweries might soon include a location at East Hastings and Campbell Avenue – but not everyone in the neighbourhood is happy about it.

Strathcona Brewing Company wants to build a brewery and small tasting room in a boarded-up space that was once a storage warehouse. It’s located across the street from the Ray-Cam Community Centre, and next to the Stamps Place Housing Complex.

“It’s not right for this location. It’s not a bad idea, I’m not opposed to a brew pub…just not across the street from a community centre,” says Guy Wakeman, the Council President for Stamps Place Tenants.

Single mother Colleen Johnson is also opposed to the move, and says the Ray-Cam Community Centre is one of the only places she and her three young children feel safe.

“I don’t want to have to worry about trying to get to the bus stop with the brewery right behind it,” she says.

“I believe we have enough issues already to deal with addicts and alcoholics. I don’t think we need to add on to our problems.”

Johnson and Wakeman argue that the city should apply the same rules to breweries as they do to marijuana dispensaries, which aren’t allowed within 300 metres of a school or community centre.

Revitalization or gentrification? Strathcona braces for change

But the builder behind the microbrewery, who says he lived in Strathcona for a decade, says the business will create jobs, promote walkability and cut down on area crime.

“The concept that we come in and bring some negative component to the neighbourhood is not a reality,” says Tim Knight of Heatherbrae Builders, who says they’ve offered to meet again with the community centre.

“The few people that may oppose the concept don’t fully understand what we’re trying to do yet.”

Tom Small, who operates Tom’s East Vin Winemaking on the same street, welcomes the potential move and says tasting rooms bring a different clientele than bars.

“People are pretty civil. Most craft beer drinkers are well-headed, civil people who like to talk about beer and drink good beer. I’m all for that,” he says.

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Strathcona Houses, Houses in Strathcona Vancouver East



Strathcona is Vancouver’s oldest residential neighborhood located just a few minutes east of Downtown Vancouver.  Close to all the city’s features, Strathcona is a unique mix of people, history, land use and architecture.

Starting out as a collection of shacks and cottages around the Hastings Mill, it developed into an absolutely charming residential area that has much to offer its residents, including a rich historic and architectural heritage, fast, easy transportation to downtown Vancouver and most importantly still reasonably priced real estate.  Today it features beautifully restored houses, overflowing flower gardens, community parks, public schools and welcoming front porches.

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Elisabeth Obesen, owner of 2523 Wall, purchased the property and had the house built, along with a $150,000 garden. (photos: Rafal Gerszak for the globe and mail)

The other side of Main Street may be Vancouver’s next hot spot


One of Vancouver’s oldest neighbourhoods is comprised of some of its finest old houses and waterfront, and yet, it’s remained a quietly hidden gem for most of the city’s history.

East side residents know about Wall Street, but city wide, it’s largely an unknown. That will change, promises Sotheby’s agent Gregg Close, who, along with his son Mackenzie, has taken on his first Wall Street listing at 2523 Wall St. The Battersby Howat designed house is listed at $1.795-million, which is the highest listing price for any home in the area.

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The BIA did some rebranding and gave the area a wannabe New York name — East Village. Red Wagon got the ball rolling five years ago with breakfast, brunch and lunches by a former high-end chef. Business was good and he opened a funky French bistro, Bistro Wagon Rouge, in the neighbourhood. Campagnolo Roma, a rustic Italian trattoria, added more frisson; it too, came with a chef with haute cuisine credentials. And Tacofino, the bricks and mortar version of a celebrated food truck, was another biggie. Now it’s a steady growth of funky neighbourhood places.

“As the rest of Vancouver gets more expensive, independent businesses are moving further east,” says Barnes. “It’s still a little funky and gritty with the light industrial area providing an edginess. It’s a big change, considering it’s still a community where the last census showed English as the first language (in the home) is in the minority.”




One of Vancouver’s oldest neighbourhoods is comprised of some of its finest old houses and waterfront, and yet, it’s remained a quietly hidden gem for most of the city’s history.

East side residents know about Wall Street, but city wide, it’s largely an unknown. That will change, promises Sotheby’s agent Gregg Close, who, along with his son Mackenzie, has taken on his first Wall Street listing at 2523 Wall St. The Battersby Howat designed house is listed at $1.795-million, which is the highest listing price for any home in the area.


Wall is a long, winding street above a bluff overlooking the workings of an industrial port, the freighter-dotted inlet and the North Shore mountains. It’s a unique view, the urban answer to Point Grey Road’s more sombre, idyllic waterfront.

Mr. Close, who grew up on Point Grey Road and has specialized in selling houses in his west side neighbourhood most of his career, believes that Wall Street is vastly under priced.

“The prices here on Wall are insane,” says Mr. Close. “I’m so used to Point Grey Road, where everything there is cheek to jowl. Here you can look right down the channel. This house will be worth $3-million because this street has nowhere to go but up.”

Of course, the Closes believe in the area because they have a house to sell, but the fact that Sotheby’s has arrived in what was once an intensely working class neighbourhood is a sign of transition. Several years ago, I wrote a story about the first $1-million listing in the city’s other old neighbourhood, Strathcona, and today it’s hard to believe that anyone even found that shocking.

Considering the shortage of waterfront in Vancouver, it only makes sense that a similar hike in property values would happen on Wall Street. For the last decade, the Hastings Sunrise community has attracted professional urban types who prefer the obscurity of their enclave, which is a short walk to Commercial Drive, a five-minute drive to downtown, and a short drive over the Second Narrows Bridge to some of the best mountain biking in the country. Now that long-time residents are of retiring age and looking to sell their seaside properties, the area is opening to a new market that is starting to recognize the east side version of Point Grey Road.

“All that’s missing is a Starbucks,” says Mr. Close.

There are already the early signs of a neighbourhood on the upswing, in the form of a few brave independent retailers. Around the corner from Wall Street, on Powell Street, are a couple of indie craft distilleries, including the Odd Society, makers of gin, vodka and whisky, with a stylish new tasting room – and Powell Street Brewing, makers of an India Pale Ale. There is a movement under way by some businesses to rename and rebrand the neighbourhood, including adjacent Grandview-Woodlands, as “the East Village.”

Omer Arbel is a celebrated designer best known for his furniture and lighting company, Bocci. His 1942 Wall Street cottage-style house, which he purchased for $1.27-million three years ago, was recently featured in Dwell magazine. He’s a recent addition to the neighbourhood, but he’s been aware of it for more than a decade, says Mr. Arbel, who moved from Israel when he was a kid. Mr. Arbel’s home is located next door to the Sotheby’s-listed property, and he has plans for his own major renovation.

“When I could afford to buy and build, there was no question in my mind that it should occur on Wall Street,” he says in an e-mail interview from somewhere in Asia. “I feel much more comfortable in East Vancouver than I do in West Vancouver or the North Shore. I love the view of the mountains and the ocean, and the rawness of the proximity to port lands, the trains and large freighters. People have hang-ups about the noise of the train tracks, but personally I love it. I think it’s romantic, and I miss it when I travel.”

Mr. Arbel is less enamoured of efforts to rebrand the area as a namesake of that famous New York neighbourhood.

“I hate that some misguided individual or group chose to try to rename our neighbourhood. Why replace a beautiful and poetic name [Hastings Sunrise], particular to this place and its history, with a generic name of a neighbourhood in New York? It seems completely against the spirit of the place. Nowhere in the world will you ever find a neighbourhood called Hastings Sunrise. This is something to celebrate, not try to obscure.”

Before it was Hastings Sunrise, the area was set aside by the colonial government in the 1860s, and called the Hastings Townsite. Back then, Vancouver was comprised of individual municipalities, and Hastings Townsite became an annex of the city in 1911, following a referendum, says historian John Atkin.

“Because it was far out from the centre the orphanages and delinquent schools, et cetera, were set out there,” he says. “They stuck similar institutions way out in West Point Grey on Fourth Avenue as well. But it developed just as other neighbourhoods did, with a mix of incomes and people. The opening of the Pacific National Exhibition helped boost the area’s development.”

As for the name, Heritage Vancouver’s Donald Luxton says nobody knows why it was renamed Wall Street in 1911. Prior to that, it was simply Powell Street.

Change isn’t happening instantly on Wall Street. The house at 2523 has been on the market for two years, and is on its third agent. Since Sotheby’s took over in May, they say they’ve had two decent offers, but they believe they can hold out for the asking price.

Last year, the owner of a 1980s-era house on a 66-by-98-foot lot at 2645 Wall listed at $2.450-million without luck. It sat on the market for 126 days.

Elisabeth Obesen, owner of the house at 2523 Wall, has lived there since 2001. She purchased the property and had the house built, but she under built on the property and only allowed for two bedrooms upstairs, which is a setback in terms of its resale, says Mr. Close.

There is still the old, prevailing attitude among locals that the east side should be far cheaper than the west, and that’s an outmoded idea, says Ms. Obesen, who is a doctor.

“Vancouverites have a very crazy notion about the east side versus the west side,” she says. “Suddenly, just because you’ve crossed Main Street, they think a house should be really cheap. Those days are over.”

Ms. Obesen says she can’t afford to live out her retirement years in Vancouver, and so she’s selling her dream home, which includes a garden that cost her more than $150,000.

“I wish I could keep my house and retire here, but I can’t. That’s the reality,” she says. “People have this idea that physicians are rich and living high off the hog, and it’s just not true. The deal is, if I want to stay in my house, I have to work till I’m 75. I’m not going to work that long. So the options are sell this house … and move to Panama. That’s been on my list at the moment.

“I could hang on and wait [for the price to go up],” she adds. “But I just don’t want to.”

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East Village Late Night Shopping

Posted on: December 2nd, 2014 by The East Village 


Join us December 4th for a special late night shopping event on Hastings Street!

LifeSupply in the Vancouver Sun

Posted on: November 26th, 2014 by The East Village 


This week the Vancouver Sun wrote a feature on one of our business members, LifeSupply.

Check out the article "Updates can help you age better in place" by Shawn Conner, to learn more about LifeSupply's products, services and what Ben Hastibaksh has to say about his unique business!

Shop the Neighbourhood

Posted on: November 26th, 2014 by The East Village 


On Saturday, November 29th, the East Village will be a part of a Yellow Pages' nationwide event called "Shop the Neighbourhood." Celebrate with Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Ottawa by supporting local businesses by shopping within the community!

Participating businesses will be promoting these exclusive promotions, this Saturday only!

Sign-A-Rama: 15% off all sandwich boards and banners

Switchblade Surfboards: 20% off all apparel and surf accessories

Vancouver Glass Ltd: 10% off frameless shower doors

ABM Food Equipment: Rent a commercial range for $18 a week

Alpha Auto Access: Buy a car, get 6 months warranty free

Lur Victoria Laundry: 10% off dry cleaning shirts

LifeSupply: Sale on bath benches

Koto Salon: 50% off haircuts

Minuteman Press: 35% off all printing

Tiny Finery: Gift with purchase over $100

Supersave Furniture: Save 75% off selected items

Rino's Italian Shoes: 50% off all purchases

Long Live Cats and Dogs: 15% of all sales will go towards Neuterhead Ace of Spays

Rocio's Saltenas and Pastries: Free coffee with purchase

Miyako Sushi: 1 Free California roll with purchase over $10

Horses Records: 10% off entire store

Bianca-Maria Italian Fine Foods: 10% off all products

Rio Friendly Meats: Buy 4 pork steaks, get 5th one free

Seventh St. Jewelry & Loan: 30-50% off all merchandise

Beauty Cosmetic and Fragrance: Hot Stone massage for $36

Coffeecino Co: 30% off all orders

A Plus Optical: Two pairs of progressive lens and frame for $399

Wheelhouse Seafoods: Free bag of Tilly's Chowder mix with $20 purchase

Sena Travel

Quest Nutrition

Curry Zone

Dog Country



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Strathcona Village Vancouver

Strathcona Village Vancouver, Wall Street Vancouver condos. Vancouver East Homes.


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