Photo: Ariana Gillrie
Vancouver’s “gaybourhood,” the West End, is home to one of the largest LGBTQ communities in Canada—but the rainbow-painted crosswalks represent just one component of the diverse community. Bordered by Stanley Park, English Bay and central downtown, it’s also an ideal home base for families and international students (the most westerly stretch of Robson Street features a robust selection of Japanese and Korean restaurants and groceries), and a hot spot for tourists getting pumped up to rollerblade the nine-kilometre seawall that surrounds the park.
Real Estate: Beaches and Bidding Wars
With its older buildings, many co-ops and leaseholds, the West End has long been the place to find picturesque value—and those who didn’t mind mustier walk-ups and ’80s stucco mid-rises were rewarded with easy access to Stanley Park and English Bay, lively street life and tight-knit communities. But now prices are rising, and rapidly, as both local buyers and investors snap up almost anything that hits the market. Condos that were $350,000 just two years ago are selling for more than $550,000; a co-op one-bedroom with no view, parking or balcony recently sold for $140,000 over asking. “It’s ridiculous. There’s nothing to sell people, so when something comes on there’s a bidding war,” says realtor and long-time West End resident Rob Joyce. “It’s changing the makeup of the West End and who owns there.”
Did you know?
Rainbow-themed Jim Deva Plaza, located in the heart of Davie Village (1200 Bute St.), exists in honour of the late owner of iconic queer bookstore Little Sister’s. The bookstore fought a lengthy federal legal battle to stand up against LGBTQ censorship and discrimination in the 1980s and ’90s.
Median Age of Residents: 50.5
Average Monthly Rent: $1,099
Avg. Total Household Income: $54,599
The West End is changing rapidly, but Denman Street—at least when it comes to food—is as reliable a destination as always.