Sunset on Sunrise

by Zbigniew

An organization that includes “Hastings North” in its title is bound to produce initiatives of marginal imagination: Hello? Hastings is north.

The Hastings North Business Improvement Association is re-branding Hastings-Sunrise as “The East Village”. Slow of wit, but fleet of foot: before you have a chance to look perplexed or mutter “huh?”, its done.  The new banners were installed along East Hastings over the course of the April 1st weekend –no joke.

“The commercial district is easy to access connecting to the main routes leading in and out of the City, and offers many unique, independent retail stores and services that appeal to local residents as well as to those exploring Vancouver. The commercial area is an eclectic vibrant area that is ready to be discovered and enjoyed.” (Emphasis added.)

Here we go: the fine grain of delis, bakeries, cobblers, grocery stores, tobacconists, acupuncturists, barbers, and greasy spoons that have quietly served us well and survived the heretofore modest incursions of franchises and condominiums are about to face the literal blockbuster: a massive London Drugs/condo monstrosity. Storefronts have already shuttered and we are not long for the inevitable increase in traffic, property taxes, rents, dog salons, high-end baby stores, and other indications of civilization in decline.

The building plan is in place and real estate agents are salivating. But to attract punters to those new dwelling-style investment units necessitates abandoning the stigma attached to “East Hastings”. A process similar to naming an Abbotsford condo complex “Brooklyn“, but on a grander scale and with a distinctly retroactive component.

It’s standard operating procedure around here. Take, for just one example, Union Street in the 1920s. The relentless whoring, swilling and assorted carrying-on of yahoos on the western end threatened reduced property values (the ultimate in local sins) all along the line. In response, the residents east of Vernon St. lobbied for a name change, and they got it: Adanac –Get it? It’s “Canada” spelled backwards! Clever, those East-of-Vernonites.

It may be a misty, soft focused, vague, ever-shifting place, this city of ours. And while were all too quick to bury our history with a bulldozer, or a petition, or a branding strategy that celebrates a community’s “uniqueness” by naming it for another city’s neighbourhood, part of our past -the big shill for a quick buck- is alive and kicking and needs no banner.