Looming loss of 1912 Kitsilano corner store dismays Heritage Vancouver Society

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      Corner stores have been disappearing in Vancouver over the years.

      Another one is likely headed that way.

      A new housing project has been proposed at the northwest corner of Yew Street and West 6th Avenue in Kitsilano.

      The site is home to a 1912 mixed-use building with residential uses, and a neighbourhood store that was once known as Helen’s Store.

      Heritage Vancouver Society has written the City of Vancouver to express its disappointment over the impending loss of the early 20th century structure.

      “Designed in 1912 by noted architect W. F. Gardiner, its loss will further erode Kitsilano’s ever-increasing loss of both its built and social character,” the group wrote.

      Design Work Group has applied with the city for a development permit to build a two-storey, two-family dwelling at 2137 Yew Street.

      In its September 24, 2020 letter, Heritage Vancouver Society recalled that the 1912 building was designed for Henry Douglas King, and constructed by H. D. Crawford, for $5,600.

      “We also note that the set-back structure attached to the north of the main building may be the original residential frame dwelling, now covered in vinyl siding, dating from its construction in April 1907,” the group noted.

      In its letter, Heritage Vancouver Society stated that the proposed replacement “doesn’t address the loss of the commercial space which is still in use serving the neighbourhood as a corner store”.

      In addition, the group noted the “lack of street engagement and activation, and absence of community integration, all of which helps in part to define Kitsilano’s neighbourhood character”.

      On June 24 this year, Vancouver city council approved a motion by councillor Sarah Kirby-Yung to pursue the revival of neighbourhood stores.

      In her motion, Kirby-Yung cited the importance of traditional corner stores in “creating social connection in neighbourhoods, as well as supporting daily needs”.

      Moreover, with more people working from home because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a “greater need for neighbourhood amenities and local food infrastructure of coffee shops, restaurants, services, and shopping including the need to access goods right in their own neighbourhood”.

      “Local corner grocer stores once filled this role in Vancouver neighbourhoods, providing a place where locals bought fresh milk, cheese, some staples, while also serving as a social gathering place for Community,” Kirby-Yung noted in her motion.