It’s not so much the label that’s causing a stir in a slice of East Vancouver, but the way the branding was done.
As far as the Hastings North Business Improvement Association is concerned, "East Village" is now the name of the retail and industrial area that runs along East Hastings Street from Commercial Drive to Renfrew Street. It also includes a section that stretches north on Commercial Drive to Powell Street, then east on Powell to Semlin Street.
Although the area is located in the two neighbourhoods of Grandview-Woodland and Hastings-Sunrise, the association consulted only its members before announcing the new name. According to Hastings North BIA executive director Patricia Barnes, that’s because the name doesn’t apply to the residential streets.
"Our mandate is business promotion and grassroots economic development for our commercial district," Barnes told the Straight in a phone interview.
Hastings-Sunrise resident Linda Shuto noted that the East Village brand isn’t the issue. "If you’re part of a neighbourhood, you’d like to be consulted about what it’s going to be named," Shuto said in a phone interview. "It just seems a bit autocratic on the part of the businesses in the area to simply decide that they get to determine what the neighbourhood is called."
Grandview-Woodland homeowner Rob Wynen, who is also a Vision Vancouver school trustee, pointed out that businesses shouldn’t separate themselves from the larger community. "The last thing that you want to do is create a name or brand somewhere and then have the community go and say, ‘Hey, this doesn’t represent me. How did this come about?’ " Wynen told the Straight by phone.
Vancouver-Hastings NDP MLA Shane Simpson said he doesn’t think many locals will embrace the name. "They will keep calling it Hastings-Sunrise or East Hastings or all of the things that it’s been called," Simpson told the Straight by phone.
Barnes maintained that the name was not necessarily taken from that of New York’s famous East Village. "We’re looking at this as a vintage neighbourhood with lots of history that we want to keep with our small, independent retailers," she said. "And it fits."
According to Barnes, the city wasn’t involved in the naming process. She said her group asked for and received city hall’s nod to display East Village banners on street poles starting on April 1.