If you’ve ever seen a little store nestled onto the corner lot of what otherwise seems like an entirely residential street and thought: “Oh, how cute!” or, rather: “What the hell is that business doing here?!” then the City of Vancouver would like to hear from you.
The City has launched a public engagement program to find out what Vancouverites think about these small stores in residential areas. The goal? Discovering how best to support these businesses and, possibly, expand upon them.
The free survey is open until October 10, but the question of corner stores in neighbourhoods officially goes back to a motion in 2020. As one of “six big moves to tackle climate change,” the City put emphasis on creating walkable, complete communities where residents can access fresh, healthy foods close to their homes.
AKA: the corner store.
The June 2020 motion was partially in reaction to that huge global pandemic thing you might remember was happening at the time; with more people working from home, there was a larger need for neighborhood amenities. Not just places to get fresh food, but also social gathering places for the community.
The present survey is a part of the Vancouver Plan, which was approved in 2022 as a “long-range strategy to guide growth and change in the city.”
The survey takes 10 to 15 minutes to complete, and asks questions including:
- Do you agree or disagree with allowing larger corner stores (i.e., allowing stores of up to 1,500 square-feet)?
- Do you agree or disagree with allowing corner stores to have some additional seating?
- What types of small-scale shops and services would you like to see in residential areas?
A press release notes that there are currently 88 active corner store businesses in residential neighbourhoods around the city, with 40 per cent acting as grocery stores and 60 per cent as another type of business. The 2020 motion specifically mentions Le Marché St. George on St. George Street, Federal Store on Quebec Street, and Wilder Snail on Keefer Street as examples of “successful 21st century embodiments of the corner store experience.”
The information from the survey is expected to influence potential policy changes in 2024.