A Main Street Community in Vancouver, BC
One of the most ethnically-diverse neighbourhoods in Vancouver, Sunset is a vibrant community bordered by East 41st Avenue, Ontario Street, Knight Street and the Fraser River; the area slopes downward toward the river from the Mountain View Cemetery. Considered an Indo-Canadian hub, the community consists of single-family homes and apartments, along with clusters of retail shops primarily located on Main and Fraser Streets. The location of the well-known Punjabi Market, Sunset is primarily home to families, and is a multicultural community where individuals speak Chinese, Punjabi, Vietnamese and Tagalong in addition to English. In fact, in 2006, 26% of residents spoke Punjabi as a first language.
The neighbourhood shows fairly even numbers as far as the age groups making up the total population. Of the 5,384 residents living in the Sunset neighbourhood, 25% are 19 and under, 31% are between 20 and 39, 32% are between 40 and 64 and 13% are 65 and older. The average household income is $75,414 and nearly 60% of residents own their homes. Recently, city initiatives have placed the focus on revitalizing the Sunset community; more individuals are setting up shop within the retail areas of the neighbourhood, offering a more diverse range of products and services. These efforts have resulted in a growing population within the neighbourhood, as well as more interest in the range of homes available there.
Sunset’s unemployment rate is 9.2%, slightly higher than Vancouver’s unemployment rate as a whole. International commerce and trade is one of the largest industries within the Vancouver area, being that the city is home to Canada’s largest port, a top employer. Within the Sunset area, the top industries are business services, health and social services, finance, education and construction. A recent surge in the number of young professionals living in the Sunset neighbourhood is due to entrepreneurial opportunities within the neighbourhood, as well as the area’s close proximity to Downtown Vancouver; it’s just 8 kilometers or 24 minutes by vehicle. Many professionals work in the downtown area while choosing to live in the beautiful and diverse neighbourhood of Sunset.
One of the most popular shopping options within the Sunset neighbourhood is the Punjabi Market, located on Main Street. Here, visitors will find vivid and gorgeous jewelry, pashminas and scarves, richly colored and decorated fabrics, and some of the most delicious traditional Punjabi food available anywhere. Tourists love visiting the area, and it’s a fantastic place for residents to find gifts and clothing. Other areas of Main Street and Fraser Street also contain retail establishments where residents can shop for groceries, antiques, collectibles, specialty items and more.
Those who want access to more popular retailers can take advantage of Oakridge Centre on West 41st Avenue, just outside of the Sunset neighbourhood and less than 10 minutes away by vehicle. The shopping center includes retailers like The Lego Store, Talbots, the Oakridge Fish Market, Gap, and Tiffany & Co, as well as popular professional services like LensCrafters and the RBC Royal Bank.
Throughout Sunset, residents can be seen walking or biking to and from work, various shops and other locations. It is a frequent form of travel for those going short distances. Like the rest of Vancouver, Sunset residents have access to TransLink buses which travel numerous routes throughout the area. There are a number of stops within the neighbourhood, including those at the Sunset Community Centre and the Sunset Arena. Those leaving the area can take Main Street south to reach SE Marine Drive, or north to reach Kingsway; both are major thoroughfares.
Many families in the Sunset community enjoy being within walking distance of their child’s school. Four elementary schools serve the neighbourhood: John Henderson Elementary on East 54th Avenue, Khalsa Elementary on Prince Albert Street, Pierre Elliot Trudeau Elementary on East 62nd Avenue and Walter Moberly Elementary on East 59th Street. John Oliver Secondary also serves the area and is located on East 41st Avenue.
In addition to the amazing art that can be found throughout the Punjabi Market, residents in the Sunset neighbourhood can take advantage of Vancouver’s significant arts scene. The Vancouver Art Gallery is a must-see for any resident in the area, and just a short distance from the neighbourhood are the Little Mountain Gallery and the Blue Lotus Gallery. One of the most charming things about Vancouver is the vast array of public art pieces. Just within the Sunset neighbourhood there are at least 8 pieces, including the Welcoming Walkway in front of the Moberly Arts Centre, the Trudeau Butterfly Park in front of the elementary school and the Imprints textured concrete designs at the Sunset Community Centre.
Locals are big fans of The Fringe Festival, an annual event that celebrates live theatre in various styles, as well as the Roberts Creek Arts Festival which takes place in May and features live art, music and food. The Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival takes place from May to September and Folk Fest is a wonderful way to celebrate folk and world music bands and acts.
Those who love spectator sports certainly have a wide variety to choose from if they live in the Sunset neighbourhood. Hockey fans root for the local team, the Vancouver Canucks, and travel often to watch them play in the City Centre where Rogers Arena is located. The junior hockey team is the Vancouver Giants, and the Pacific Coliseum in East Van hosts their games. Fans of American-style football root for the BC Lions, the city’s Canadian Football League team, usually playing in the downtown area. In addition to these options, many residents enjoy soccer, baseball, and even roller derby. The area offers up a slew of annual festivals that residents enjoy, from arts festivals to live music festivals to pride parades.
Sunset residents who want to get closer to nature can take advantage of the Seawall in downtown Vancouver, where there are plenty of skaters, walkers, joggers and bikers. Beaches are available throughout the city, including Kits Beach where folks can soak up the sun or play a friendly game of volleyball. Other popular outdoor activities include skiing and snowboarding at Cypress, Grouse Mountain and Seymour.
Investing in Sunset Community Real Estate
Families and individuals in search of a beautiful, multicultural neighbourhood rich in history and culture should look no further than Sunset. It offers excellent schools, great public transportation, is within close proximity to top-notch medical care and all the amenities Vancouver is known for. One excellent benefit of the neighbourhood is the high number of “Vancouver Specials,” homes designed in the early 1960’s as an inexpensive, quick solution to a growing immigrant population looking for housing. Affordable, these homes feature large floor plates which allow owners to renovate easily without making structural changes. For this reason, they have become quite popular as “fixer-uppers.”
With recent focus from city leaders placed on the Sunset neighbourhood, more and more families, young professionals and retail shops are moving into the area. An increased interest in the community as well as a growing population could lead to significantly higher property values, earning investors a great return and helping families build their futures. ■