EcoDensity brings chain stores, deserted 'hoods

Re: “Anxiety over EcoDensity”, April 10-17

One point that doesn’t seem to be brought up very often in this EcoDensity conversation is how devastating it is to small retailers, the very people who make a community livable. When the old buildings are torn down so the arterial corridor can be developed, the rents become too high for the small operations to sustain, so the big chains move in. It has been happening on Fourth Avenue in Kitsilano for some time now. My shoemaker had to move, my favourite dry cleaner—who did amazing mending—as well, and others. We also lost some affordable housing on the second storeys of the previous buildings. There is so much talk about creating “livable communities”, but if I have to go to Metrotown or Oakridge to get my shoes fixed, then doesn’t that defeat the purpose? We also lose the flavour of the neighbourhood—what made it attractive in the first place. Kitsilano is fast losing its funkiness. We now have a two-block stretch of maternity, baby shops, and Lululemon look-alikes. I doubt very much that it is the “locals” who are sustaining these stores. The only argument I have heard is “Let the market decide”, one I will not be buying into.

> Spring Gillard / Vancouver

On any given night, Coal Harbour is a high-rise sea of darkened windows in unoccupied luxury vacation homes. Yaletown? False Creek? Ditto. And now the EcoDensity “visionaries” want to replicate this so-called strategy in the form of a 19-floor upscale tower in the West End.

The result will be more unoccupied, investor-owned megasuites and the permanent removal of a couple of dozen increasingly rare affordable rental apartments.

Mr. Mayor, with all due respect: EcoDensity is a grand idea, but only when it actually results in more living space for real human beings. The only thing “eco” about it is the small amount of energy used by unoccupied condos. However, that energy savings will be completely offset as regular rental folks have to move and commute in from farther and farther away.

Eventually, spending an hour’s wage taking transit to and from work will stop making sense. At that point, you will have achieved your “EcoDensity”. All the buildings will be vacant, owned by millionaires who only pop in for the occasional visit.

But who’s going to make their nonfat caramel lattes?

> Nolan Burris / Vancouver