A Vancouver Beach Neighbourhood
The Kitsilano westside neighbourhood of the Canadian City of Vancouver in British Columbia is on the shore of English Bay on the north between the flanking neighbourhoods of Point Grey at Alma Street on the west and Fairview east at Burrard Street on the east. West 16th Avenue is the southern border with the neighbourhoods of Dunbar, Arbutus Ridge, and Shaughnessy. Notable neighbourhood landmarks are the Burrard Street Bridge, a five-lane, Art Deco style, steel-truss bridge constructed in 1932 to connect Kitsilano to Downtown Vancouver, the splendid Kitsilano Beach, and the Maritime Museum and MacMillan Space Centre, both in Vanier Park near the beach. Kitsilano hosts the annual Vancouver International Children’s Festival, Bard on the Beach outdoor Shakespeare festival, and Celebration of Light fireworks competition.
Mostly residential with commercial areas on West 4th Avenue and West Broadway, Kitsilano’s population was 40,595 according to the 2006 Census, a 2.5-percent increase from 2001. English is the dominant language of area residents followed by Chinese; however, French, German, Greek, Japanese, and Spanish are not uncommon. About 75.0 percent speak English as their native language, 4.5 percent Chinese, and 3.2 percent French. The 2006 neighbourhood median household income was $53,455, and 21.3 percent of residents live in low-income households.
Vancouver streetcar lines once had a loop at Arbutus & Cornwall, making the beach area easily accessible from the new city, then still mostly on the small Downtown peninsula on the north side of the Burrard Street Bridge over False Creek. The Lulu Island Railway opened an interurban line from Downtown Granville & Pacific streets to Richmond via Seventh Avenue and Arbutus Street through Kerrisdale in the 1890s, putting more of the neighbourhood within easy range of Downtown.
An inexpensive neighbourhood in the 1960s, Kitsilano attracted many countercultural residents from across Canada and the USA and became with Gastown one of two such city neighbourhoods gentrified in later decades. Easy access to Downtown Vancouver and walking distance to parks, beaches, and ever popular Granville Island in Fairview have made the neighbourhood very desirable. Following the days of the counterculture, many environmentalists came to Vancouver. Greenpeace opened its first office in Kitsilano in 1975 as did the Green Party of British Columbia in 1983.
Parks and Beaches
Kitsilano has seventeen parks, six playgrounds, an off-leash dog park, and one of Vancouver’s finest, most popular beaches with a franchise restaurant, the heated, salt-water outdoor Kitsilano Pool open from May to September, longest (137 metres/150 yards) swimming pool in Canada, and the Kitsilano Showboat, which has operated since 1935 as essentially an open-air amphitheatre with free performances from local bands and dance groups to entertain residents and tourists and showcase amateur talent.
No New Beach Bicycle Trail for Now
After months of vocal opposition and a lawsuit, the Vancouver park board in February 2014 gave up on plans for a new $2.2 million bicycle trail through Hadden Park and Kitsilano Beach and directed its staff to improve safety on the present trail through the parks. Opponents obtained in November 2013 a court order enjoining the board from breaking ground on the project until the case against it could be heard fully. An opposition spokesman said she was happy that “we won’t be putting blacktop through our precious green space.” The discontinued proposed project would have completed the city’s Seaside Greenway route from Coal Harbour to Jericho Beach Park on English Bay in the Point Grey neighbourhood several miles west of Kitsilano Beach.