Classic Vancouver corner stores could be making a comeback

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — One of the silver linings of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the push for us to buy local. Now, some new zoning amendments in Vancouver may make that easier to do.

Last week, Vancouver city council unanimously passed a motion to allow applications for neighbourhood grocery stores in residential areas.

Councillor Sarah Kirby-Yung says it will also existing ones to be protected too.

“The regulations that were in existence only allowed neighbourhood grocery stores that had been in operation prior to 1980,” she explains. “So, unless the store had started prior to that, there were no new stores that were allowed. And if the store had closed for a period of time then there were restrictions on it reopening.”

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Kirby-Yung feels that’s too bad, as corner stores are often, as she puts it, the gems of their communities.

“These are not just places that can supply your daily needs where you can pick up milk or a loaf of bread. They’re places [where] people connect,” she says.

“There are some areas that are really fortunate, like Mount Pleasant or Strathcona, Grandview-Woodlands, that are pretty rich and they have a few of their stores, and their sense of community really comes from that. Then, there are other neighbourhoods that just have a huge gap.”

She points out more than 350 neighbourhood style grocery stores have been lost over the past decade with only 34 remaining.

Kirby-Yung says the response to her motion has been overwhelmingly positive.

“Everybody had their corner store story growing up. Everybody knew the people that ran it and knew their name and had a memory about what it meant as part of their childhood.”

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