Kitsilano: Vancouver’s best neighbourhood”¦sort of
In this year’s Best of Vancouver awards, Georgia Straight readers voted Kitsilano as Best Neighbourhood. I felt a tiny twinge of pride when I saw my hood ranked first, above Commercial Drive and the West End.
There are many reasons why people choose to live where they do—the right home price or rent, good schools, proximity to work. But the intangible factor is fit. Where do you feel you belong?
For me, it’s not the Drive. Every time I walk down it I feel this negative energy, like everybody on the street has something to prove. I simply don’t feel comfortable there.
The West End is beautiful with Stanley Park, and English Bay has arguably better ocean/mountain views than Kits Beach. But I find it claustrophobic. The apartments feel like fishbowls. I don’t want to stand in my living room and make eye contact with my neighbour in his living room.
I live in Kits primarily for two reasons: my apartment is within walking distance to work, and walking distance to the water. To me, seeing the ocean every day is one of the best things about living in Vancouver. I could never afford to buy in Kits, but the rent isn’t that much different than elsewhere in the city, so I take advantage of it.
Kits isn’t perfect, however. I grew up in East Van, and I’m often put off by the richie-richness of the West side.
Here are some things I really wish Kitsilano did better:
- Authentic Asian food. The real stuff, not “Asian street food” for $15 a plate, or lame sweet-and-sour pork. Give us some congee, and a place to buy a hunk of barbecue pork.
- Hole in the wall restaurants. Kits groans with fantastic mid- to high-end restaurants, but it really falls short on the cheap and cheerful. (See #1).
- Cheap produce. There are a few stores that fit the bill—the produce stores on West Broadway are really good at sourcing local produce for reasonable prices. But overall, veggie options in Kits are nowhere near as varied as those on Fraser Street or Victoria Drive, and the prices are far less competitive.
- Ethnic diversity. The only time you see South Asian people in Kits is in the summer, when they come from other neighbourhoods to the beach. Otherwise, brown faces are few and far between.
Things I tolerate about Kits:
- Yoga yuppies.
- Stroller yuppies.
- I-won’t-eat-it-unless-it’s-organic yuppies.
Things I love about Kitsilano:
- The positive energy of Kits Beach. Walkers, joggers, coffee strollers. It’s a meditative refuge in the rainy winter, and a party in the summer.
- Kitsilano Showboat. Sometimes the talent is great, sometimes not so much, but it’s always charming. The ever-changing backdrop of mountains and ocean couldn’t be more stunning. Bea Leinbach and her son, Barry, have kept it going for years, and the free entertainment is great for the community.
- Kits pool. Could there be a more beautiful place to swim?
- Garage sales. People get rid of really good stuff! And since their houses are worth so much, they practically give the contents away. Last year’s score: a new pasta maker for $5.
- Great shops. Terra Breads, Ming Wo, Jackson’s Meats, Wanderlust on 4th; Parthenon, Travel Bug, flower shops on West Broadway
- Granville Island. Walking distance from Kits and the best Saturday morning entertainment for the price of a coffee
Kits isn’t perfect, but it’s the best fit for me. Now if I could just afford to buy a home here”¦