Kitsilano, better known as just “Kits” to locals, became a popular area in the 60s as it developed into a hippie-centered hub. Today, the area still embodies some of the “hippie” characteristics of its past with its laid-back and easygoing feel.
Kitsilano is located on the southern shore of English Bay.
The community is unique in that it is a popular area to live in for all age groups – from the young university students to the older retirees.
Katherine Allen is a coordinator for Building Caring Communities, a foundation that focuses on creating community engagement within Metro Vancouver.
“Kits is made up of a lot of students, families and seniors, and it’s a very community-oriented neighbourhood,” said Allen. “When I am in Kits I would say that the common places that connect people are community centres and neighbourhood houses because they are residential.”
Kitsilano is also home to a large number of owner-operated businesses especially on the popular shopping street West 4th Avenue.
Jane McFadden is the executive director of the West 4th Ave Business Improvement Association and has a passion for supporting local businesses that call the street home.
According to McFadden high taxes are affecting business in the region tremendously.
“Individually if you talk to a number of businesses in the area you would hear them say that the taxes have gone up over the last ten years to the point where they can’t afford to be in business,” said McFadden. “If your rent is $2500 and your taxes are the same it makes it very hard to run a single-owner store.”
Members of the West 4th Ave Business Improvement Association have made it their mission to fight the skyrocketing price of taxes on businesses by supporting the Fair Tax Coalition, a group that works on behalf of business owners and tenants that feel like they are not getting a fair deal when it comes to the taxes they are paying.
Small businesses in the area are also finding it hard to survive as they compete against the rising popularity of online shopping.
“We are trying to adapt for the future in regards to the way people are shopping,” said McFadden. “But is important that consumers know the importance of shopping local and how that helps to support the local economy.”
Kitsilano is a thriving and invigorating beachside community but its local businesses are struggling to survive against a new online shopping era and the escalating price of taxes.