When Karen Hamill’s daughter learned to walk, the mom-and-pop shops of MacKenzie and West 33rd were her first destination.
“You come here to meet people,” said Hamill, who lives 15 minutes away. “[Eventually], everyone knows your name. They speak with my children, they ask for life updates… You don’t get that from chain stores.”
There’s Christos Kaskamanidis, the 79-year-old neighbourhood barber who gives haircuts and plays you the accordion.
There’s Earl Morris, the neighbourhood baker, who set up here with his sister after they ran Kerrisdale’s beloved Red Onion restaurant for 26 years.
There’s Jessica Clark, the neighbourhood florist, who always knows what you’d like. Maybe it helps that her middle name is Blossom.
And there’s India Daykin, 23, the newest on the block, who runs a beauty store on the corner. She’s very excited to be here.
There’s something unusual about this hub. There aren’t many places like it in Vancouver for one reason: in every direction are houses, houses, houses.
It’s hard to find commercial spaces in residential neighbourhoods because city planners for decades have tried to keep them out. The dozen businesses here at MacKenzie Heights were zoned in before planners decided it was inappropriate to have them near homes.
And yet today, the new businesses that have taken over grandfathered commercial space in residential neighbourhoods are gaining popularity. They bring convenience, but also community.
In early March, the mayor gave a speech about bringing “gentle density” to single-family home neighbourhoods. But when that happens, what about the amenities?
A glimpse of a vibrant future for Vancouver’s neighbourhoods can be seen in residential communities like MacKenzie Heights, thanks to the mom-and-pops from the past that are making a comeback.
Read the full story in the Vancouver Courier here.