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Vancouver: Home of $2-million starter bungalows and a thousand grubby little nail bars and vegetable shops

February 3rd, 2015 · 22 Comments

Vancouver is such a city of contradictions: endorphin-inducing natural beauty and some of the tackiest housing and development in North America; the glass condos of Coal Harbour and the hovels of the Downtown Eastside.

One that has always perplexed me is how, in a city where it’s hard to find a shack with a piece of land for less than $700,000 at the least, the commercial streets near those pricey homes are often so down-market.

Near my home, whose assessment rose to the point this year where I no longer qualify for the full homeowner’s grant, it’s nothing but battery sales, Ethiopian restaurants, secondhand furniture, several truly grotty produce shops, print-and-sign operations, and a series of convenience stores run by immigrants desperately looking for a foothold in the new world.

Even in Kerrisdale, where the prices are triple and quadruple my dump, it’s not that much better. So I finally, in my latest Vancouver magazine column, tried to get some answers about this odd phenomenon.

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