A Main Street Community in Vancouver, BC
Strathcona, a diverse and multicultural neighborhood in Vancouver, is located east of Chinatown, between Burrard Inlet (to the north) and the Canadian National Railway and the BNSF railway classification yards (to the south). This neighborhood features one of the widest ranges of home prices in Vancouver; the majority of residents live in the newer multi-family homes such as low-rise and high-rise apartment buildings. However, with Strathcona being one of the oldest neighborhoods in Vancouver, there are many historical single-family row houses as well. Gentrification within the neighborhood is resulting in these historical homes being restored by the influx of new residents who are attracted to the charm and diversity of Strathcona. The Restore It Program is assisting with this, providing grants to homeowners who are willing to restore their historical homes to the original Victorian or Edwardian styles.
The population of Strathcona is steadily increasing; in 2006, the population of 11,290 was a 3% increase from 2001. The majority of residents are between the ages of 40 and 64 (38.9%), while approximately 23.5% are between the ages of 20 and 39. Through city initiatives for affordable housing and placing higher priorities on art, history and culture throughout Vancouver, more and more individuals are becoming interested in what Strathcona has to offer.
The city of Vancouver is one of the largest industrial centers in Canada, and home to Canada’s largest and most diversified Port, Port Metro Vancouver. The port is the largest employer in Vancouver, and is responsible for providing more than 69,000 jobs. The city is also a major provider of forest product, and has recently become a host to a variety of technology-related companies in the business of software development, biotechnology, and aerospace, as well as becoming significant in the entertainment industry.
Other top industries in the area include business, finance, and social services. Vancouver has been a major tourist destination for many years, as individuals from all over the world visit to see city gardens, Stanley Park and Queen Elizabeth Park, as well as to enjoy the plethora of natural beauty in the form of mountains, forests, ocean and parklands. The unemployment rate in Strathcona is 11.1%, and the median household income is $15,558.
Although Strathcona residents are very close to major shopping options like the Kingsgate Mall or Portobello West Market, many prefer to stay within the neighborhood. There are several retail shops available to provide basic necessities to those living in Strathcona. On the corner of Union and Princess is Benny’s Market, established in 1902, which is not only an excellent place to pick up much-needed items, but also a part of the history of Strathcona. Benny’s offers up Italian specialty foods, bulk dry goods, specialty meat and cheeses, fresh produce, coffee, baked goods and household cleaning supplies. It’s also a great place to get delicious deli sandwiches, and provides imported goods (from Spain, Portugal and Italy) to local restaurants and businesses.
Finch’s Market Cafe on East Georgia Street is another excellent option for picking up necessities or sitting down for a fresh and delicious deli sandwich. Residents visit to pick up organic produce, pasta and dried goods, jams, spices, and baking ingredients as well as the homemade ice cream, organic milk and eggs. They also love ordering up one of the popular Finch’s baguettes, such as the prosciutto and pear-brie baguette, and the organic coffee, created with direct trade beans. Other popular shops and eateries around Strathcona include the Sunrise Market, the Union Food Market (known for their custard tarts), The Railtown Cafe, and Fresh Direct Produce on Malkin Avenue.
Residents of Strathcona love walking and biking around the neighborhood; most live in homes that are very close to the neighborhood’s amenities. Those that need to travel farther can take advantage of the TransLink buses, which frequently stop around the neighborhood and travel regular routes. The Main Street SkyTrain station, just a 12-minute walk from Strathcona, provides the Millennium Line and Expo Line SkyTrains with regular routes to surrounding neighborhoods and cities.
Residents of Strathcona are served by two public elementary schools; Lord Strathcona Elementary (founded in 1891, this is the oldest school in Vancouver) and Admiral Seymour Elementary. Parents can also take advantage of Avenir School, which is an independent school serving gifted children in grades 6 through 12. Another historical school, the Vancouver Japanese Language School, founded in 1906, is located in Strathcona and offers Japanese language courses to individuals of all ages.
Strathcona is a neighborhood steeped in the arts. In addition to a variety of galleries and theaters, it is home to various public art displays as well. Playwrights Theatre Centre, located on Gore Avenue, is a great place to check out a fantastic performing arts group. Also located on Gore Avenue is the Finehall Arts Centre, a “hub for theatre, dance and visual arts.” A handful of art galleries is located within a very close proximity to Strathcona, and convenient transportation in the area makes it easy to get to larger art galleries, theaters and museums in the city of Vancouver.
Strathcona residents take advantage of numerous festivals throughout the year. Each summer, Strathcona Park hosts the East Van Summer Jam, which is a day of concerts and live entertainment as well as games and sports for those over the age of 19. Just one neighborhood over, in Downtown Eastside, residents can enjoy the Eastside Culture Crawl, which is a huge festival celebrating arts and crafts, happening each November.
Those who live in this neighborhood have access to five local parks, including Strathcona Park, which offers up a variety of amenities. The park has designated off-leash dog areas for residents to take their pets, while children and adults alike enjoy the playgrounds, soccer fields and the baseball diamond. The Strathcona Community Centre provides licensed childcare and preschool classes as well as programming for those of all ages, breakfast and food security programs for children, as well as a fitness center.
Investing in Strathcona Real Estate
As the City of Vancouver works hard to highlight the cultural and historical aspect of Strathcona, people throughout Vancouver and – on a larger scale – throughout Canada are beginning to realize the many benefits of the neighborhood. While Strathcona was once a crime-ridden community, that stigma is disappearing; from 2009 to 2013, crime dropped 31% in the neighborhood. The area is attracting a younger population of individuals interested in the large number of historical homes available, as well as the family-friendly and small-town environment. It’s not everywhere that one could walk out their front door and visit a grocery store that has been in operation for more than 100 years, or where neighbors know each others’ names and stop to say hello in community areas.
This in combination with the urban aspect of large shopping centers nearby, popular and hip retailers, rapid transit, and affordable housing has made Strathcona a place of interest in the past few years. As this interest increases, so too will the property value and number of high-end retailers and services moving into the area. There has never been a better or more promising time to invest in Strathcona real estate. ■