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Commercial Drive, Vancouver

Commercial Drive is a roadway in the city of Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada that goes through the neighbourhood of Grandview-Woodland. However, the neighbourhood is so dominated by the businesses, cultural facilities, and residents along Commercial Drive that the area is far better known as "The Drive" than by the civic boundaries. The district is one of Vancouver's Business Improvement Areas (BIA).

The district is served by many different bus routes, as well as both the SkyTrain's Expo Line and Millennium Line at Commercial–Broadway Station.

Commercial Drive is a mixed residential-commercial area with a high proportion of ethnic and vegetarian restaurants, businesses, and public housing. The area has low property prices compared to the westside of Vancouver, yet has good city services and is a local transit hub. It has been the destination for generations of immigrants to Vancouver and has significant Italian, Asian, Latin America, East Indian, and African communities. As of the Canada 2001 Census, English is a minority language in Grandview-Woodland, though still the most common.

Commercial Drive has a large number of local ethnic stores and community groups, Edwardian-style heritage buildings, European-style cafes, bars, and alternative shops and entertainment venues. As of late August 2007, there are 93 restaurants on Commercial Drive between Venables and Broadway, of which 19 are coffee bars.

It is home to an active street festival culture; notable annual events include the Vancouver Dyke March in August and the Parade of the Lost Souls in October. It also plays host to Vancouver's only queer spoken word and musician performance night, Unsweetened (and Outspoken). The Drive is a popular place for Vancouverites who want to experience a safe version of North American counter-culture.

History

The Drive was originally a skid road for dragging logs to the harbour. It was named "Park Drive" but renamed "Commercial Drive" in 1911, possibly to avoid confusion with other Park Drives in Vancouver. Commercial Drive ends in the south at 16th Avenue, the former end of Vancouver/start of City of South Vancouver, when it diverts to Victoria Drive. A limited light industrial Commercial Street carries on to 22nd Avenue, and around the Selkirk school there, until 54th Avenue as a residential street.

In 1891 the Drive became part of the Vancouver-New Westminster Interurban, a streetcar line. The streetcar line encouraged the growth of local businesses and residences, an influence that is still felt today. Two streetcar lines ran down Commercial—there was the Interurban line to Westminster along Kingsway, and the Interurban line via Burnaby Lake. There were also numerous city lines, which continue today as trolleybuses. The Interurban ceased operation in 1954.

During the pre-World War One period, a number of speculators—including McSpadden and Odlum (both of whom have nearby streets named for them) -- attempted to turn the Grandview neighbourhood, centered on the Drive, into a real estate area comparable to the West End and the newly opened Shaughnessy Heights. The global financial collapse around 1913 put an end to their hopes.

Commercial Drive was the centre of a prosperous suburb during the 1920s, but declined during the Great Depression and never significantly recovered until World War II. One result of this is a significant number of historical buildings and residences in the area. Commercial Drive was originally closer to the centre of town—town being located at Main and Hastings. Since then the focus of town has moved west. Commercial Drive included market gardens, sash and door factories, light industrial, rooming houses, dairies, orchards and open fields. In the urban sprawl of the 1950s the open areas were filled in.

After World War II many Italian immigrants settled in eastern Vancouver, and the northern part of Commercial Drive came to be known as "Little Italy". A sizable Portuguese community came to the area as well. During the 1960s, immigration from Asian countries began to dilute the European influence. A wave of Latino immigrants came in the 1980s as a result of the turmoil and civil wars in Central America. Many came from South America as well—the Mercosur Republics. Vietnamese nationals immigrated as well.

Throughout the 1980s, The Drive attracted a large counter-culture demographic, including political activists, lesbians, hippies, punks, and artists. Around the turn of the millennium, local outlets of multi-national companies became the target of anti-globalization protesters and civil disobedience campaigns. SkyTrain opened into the neighbourhood with Broadway Station in December 1985. Market forces and the ongoing squalor, drugs and crime of the nearby neighbourhood Downtown Eastside spilled over to the Drive with an increase of panhandling, drunkenness, heroin use and trafficking, litter and filth. Meanwhile, gentrification also came to the district with new condominium housing projects and new storefronts replacing old woodframe stores.

In 2002, many restaurant owners were upset with the infamous "dancing police"; bylaw enforcement officers who ticketed establishments hosting any dancing to live music. In late 2004, Commercial Drive gained national notoriety when the media complained that several cafes there were openly selling marijuana. As of 2005, there are still very few large retail or restaurant chains on Commercial Drive. The Da Kine, an Amsterdam style cafe, was raided by police and owner Carol Gwilt charged with trafficking. She was eventually sentenced to prison. The issue has publicised the city's lack of enforcement of Canadian drug laws, and demonstrated a commitment to its stated "Four Pillars" drug strategy.

In early summer 2005, Commercial Drive hosted its first car-free festival, in which 16 blocks were cleared of all vehicles and tens of thousands of people celebrated with walks, dancing, and food. The festival has since become an annual event, expanding to other parts of the city in 2008, and as of 2009, the Drive and Main St are to host car-free days every Sunday afternoon throughout July and August.

The upper Drive at Broadway has turned into the city's busiest crossroad with the arrival of the second SkyTrain or Millennium Line. This transit system, combined with the B-Line Express bus on Broadway made for a spike in foot-traffic.

Today Commercial Drive is a multicultural and urban area.

Commercial Drive Listings

Vancouver Commercial Drive

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  • 301 1647 E PENDER Street in Vancouver: Grandview VE Townhouse for sale in "The Oxley" (Vancouver East) : MLS®# R2341399

    Open House on Thursday, February 21, 2019 5:00PM - 6:00PM
    Open House on Saturday, February 23, 2019 3:00PM - 5:00PM
    Open House on Sunday, February 24, 2019 3:00PM - 5:00PM
    Main Photo: 301 1647 E PENDER Street in Vancouver: Grandview VE Townhouse for sale in "The Oxley" (Vancouver East)  : MLS®# R2341399
    $979,900
    Residential Attached
    Status:
    Active
    MLS® Num:
    R2341399
    Bedrooms:
    2
    Bathrooms:
    2
    Floor Area:
    1,100 sq. ft.
    This is a 2 year old, architecturally designed modern townhouse just off The Drive. 2 bedrooms, 2 baths over 3 levels. Opens to the secure inner courtyard on the 2nd level. Superb layout, and a fantastic 330 sqft private roof top deck with 360 degree views of the city, mountains, ocean. Also a south facing deck off of living room level. Satellite bedrooms and a completely open-plan living/ dining/ kitchen level. 15 unit boutique complex with no neighbours above. End unit with only one shared wall. Windows to the south and north for great light and air on every level. Italian custom kitchen, stainless appliances, quartz countertops, custom walnut finishing carpentry, custom roller blinds, etc. 2 unique stacking parking spaces in the secure parkade plus a large bike room. OPEN Thurs Feb 21st 5-6pm Sat 23rd / Sun 24th 3-5pm. Or call for private showing. More details
    Listed by RE/MAX Crest Realty
  • 1538 E 11TH Avenue in Vancouver: Grandview VE House 1/2 Duplex for sale (Vancouver East) : MLS®# R2341296

    Main Photo: 1538 E 11TH Avenue in Vancouver: Grandview VE House 1/2 Duplex for sale (Vancouver East)  : MLS®# R2341296
    $1,199,000
    Residential Attached
    Status:
    Active
    MLS® Num:
    R2341296
    Bedrooms:
    3
    Bathrooms:
    3
    Floor Area:
    1,380 sq. ft.
    AMAZING LOCATION!! Located between Woodland & Commercial and just 2 blocks from E Broadway this well maintained back duplex is in a quiet residential neighborhood. Cozy 3 bdr + 3 bth + 1 storage rm and a large covered deck-perfect for entertaining and BBQs! Nice layout with living, dining & kitchen on the main floor & bdrs above! Skylights above give the home alot of natural light! Surrounded by numerous parks like Clark Park & Trout Lake this home is a dog lovers dream! Queen Alexandra Elementary is a short 2 block walk and VanTech High School is a short 5 min drive or 20 min walk. Home is situated in an IDEAL LOCATION close to ALL amenities like Safeway, transit & quick route to DT OR Richmond! More details
    Listed by Nu Stream Realty Inc.
  • 1567 E 8TH Avenue in Vancouver: Grandview VE House 1/2 Duplex for sale (Vancouver East) : MLS®# R2341088

    Main Photo: 1567 E 8TH Avenue in Vancouver: Grandview VE House 1/2 Duplex for sale (Vancouver East)  : MLS®# R2341088
    $1,498,000
    Residential Attached
    Status:
    Active
    MLS® Num:
    R2341088
    Bedrooms:
    3
    Bathrooms:
    2
    Floor Area:
    1,226 sq. ft.
    INCREDIBLE investment opportunity, in the Grandview-Woodlands OCP. This block has been designated up to 3.6 FSR with a minimum of 122 feet of frontage (4 lots) with 50% condo 50% rental OR 2.4 FSR for 100% rental with minimum frontage of 50 feet (2 lots). This spacious 1/2 duplex has 2 functional suites that can be rented out or live comfortably in the whole thing! Excellent condition with laminate floors, high ceilings, extremely bright with a private backyard and garage. Three large bedrooms and a den that could easily function as a fourth bedroom. One block from 'The Drive' with the BEST of shopping/transportation at your service. A great deal of potential here for an investor/owner. More details
    Listed by Dexter Realty
  • 2218 E 11TH Avenue in Vancouver: Grandview VE House for sale in "COMMERCIAL DRIVE" (Vancouver East) : MLS®# R2341030

    Main Photo: 2218 E 11TH Avenue in Vancouver: Grandview VE House for sale in "COMMERCIAL DRIVE" (Vancouver East)  : MLS®# R2341030
    $1,389,000
    Residential Detached
    Status:
    Active
    MLS® Num:
    R2341030
    Bedrooms:
    4
    Bathrooms:
    2
    Floor Area:
    1,815 sq. ft.
    Cheerful bungalow with 2 suites on a 33’ x 122’ duplex zoned property nestled into a quiet block on the bike route near Trout Lake, the Skytrain & fantastic schools. Great as starter home, investment or redevelopment. Upstairs is a bright 2 bed suite with solarium & a large sundeck. Below has another 2 bed suite with 7’2 ceilings & a big patio. Both suites rented on a month to month basis. Large exterior storage room with shared laundry, lane access & a yard perfect for kids, pets and green thumbs alike. Great opportunity for an urban farmer to enjoy a flat, private yard with garden beds, fruit trees, chicken coop & south facing sun. Amazing, connected location in a family-friendly pocket just 1 block to Laura Secord Elem & walking distance to everything Commercial Drive has to offer! Open House Sunday 12-2. More details
    Listed by Stilhavn Real Estate Services
  • 1654 VENABLES Street in Vancouver: Grandview VE House for sale (Vancouver East) : MLS®# R2340766

    Main Photo: 1654 VENABLES Street in Vancouver: Grandview VE House for sale (Vancouver East)  : MLS®# R2340766
    $2,099,000
    Residential Detached
    Status:
    Active
    MLS® Num:
    R2340766
    Bedrooms:
    10
    Bathrooms:
    4
    Floor Area:
    3,179 sq. ft.
    I-2 Zoned rare investment opportunity one door down from Commercial Drive in Grandview! A four unit property on two levels approximately 3,020 sq ft on 33' x 122' lot. Upstairs has 2 suites: Three bedroom- rented for $2500/month and a second two bedroom currently renting for $2000. Downstairs has 2 units with two bedrooms and separate entrances, currently renting for $1850 and $1040. Shared laundry on site. An excellent property for long term investment with total income of $7390 or more. Close to community centre, elementary and secondary schools, shops and transit. Can be purchased with the neighboring property to the west (MLS R2314229). Note MLS C8023657 is the same property listed in commercial. More details
    Listed by Macdonald Realty
  • 1950 KITCHENER Street in Vancouver: Grandview VE House 1/2 Duplex for sale (Vancouver East) : MLS®# R2340344

    Main Photo: 1950 KITCHENER Street in Vancouver: Grandview VE House 1/2 Duplex for sale (Vancouver East)  : MLS®# R2340344
    $1,198,000
    Residential Attached
    Status:
    Active
    MLS® Num:
    R2340344
    Bedrooms:
    4
    Bathrooms:
    3
    Floor Area:
    1,191 sq. ft.
    Gorgeous front 1/2 Duplex on one of the prettiest tree-lined streets near Commercial Drive! Ideal floor plan offers 3 beds & 2 bathrms up, with an additional bdrm (or playrm/ office) & powder rm on the main. Master has lovely ensuite and walk-in with California Closets. 9' ceilings on the main & hot water radiant heat. 588 sq ft crawl space for tons of storage & detached garage off the lane. Lovely front porch & patio overlook pretty Kitchener St. Steps to Victoria and Commercial Drive and a 2 minute walk to Victoria Park. A beautiful home in one of Vancouver's best and most convenient neighbourhoods. Lord Nelson Elem & Templeton High. OPEN SAT FEB 16 3-5pm & SUN FEB 17 2-4 pm. More details
    Listed by Macdonald Realty
  • 1642 CHARLES Street in Vancouver: Grandview VE House for sale (Vancouver East) : MLS®# R2339969

    Main Photo: 1642 CHARLES Street in Vancouver: Grandview VE House for sale (Vancouver East)  : MLS®# R2339969
    $2,498,000
    Residential Detached
    Status:
    Active
    MLS® Num:
    R2339969
    Bedrooms:
    5
    Bathrooms:
    5
    Floor Area:
    3,508 sq. ft.
    This four level 1909 Edwardian character home is one of the jewels of Vancouver’s Commercial Drive. Built by Peter Duffey who constructed six in a row on the hill across from the park, he took this home as his own residence.There are panoramic mountains & downtown views from the top 3 floors as well as overlooking the park. This grand home was completely restored & added onto starting in 2006. Main floor feat a formal entry w/original fir floors & bay windows, stained glass windows & gorgeous woodwork, entry hall, formal living, dining, reading room, renovated kitchen w/family room overlooking the sunny south backyard. Upstairs are 4 bdrms w/2 baths incl a spacious master ensuite & above is a spacious loft w/gorgeous views. The garden level has a self-contained 1 bdrm mortgage helper, spacious sitting area, workshop & extra room. Outside feat a private mature garden, terrace & parking for 2 cars. This is an incredible opportunity to purchase a one of a kind piece of Vancouver’s history. OPEN Feb 16 & 17, 1-230 More details
    Listed by RE/MAX Select Properties
  • 1867 E 12TH Avenue in Vancouver: Grandview VE House for sale (Vancouver East) : MLS®# R2339994

    Main Photo: 1867 E 12TH Avenue in Vancouver: Grandview VE House for sale (Vancouver East)  : MLS®# R2339994
    $2,750,000
    Residential Detached
    Status:
    Active
    MLS® Num:
    R2339994
    Bedrooms:
    8
    Bathrooms:
    4
    Floor Area:
    2,425 sq. ft.
    LAND ASSEMBLY - 12th & Victoria part of the Grandview Woodland OCP. Recommended 6 Storey Rental Housing 2.4 FSR More details
    Listed by Jovi Realty Inc. and Team 3000 Realty Ltd.
  • 202 1450 E 7TH Avenue in Vancouver: Grandview VE Condo for sale in "Ridgeway Place" (Vancouver East) : MLS®# R2340173

    Main Photo: 202 1450 E 7TH Avenue in Vancouver: Grandview VE Condo for sale in "Ridgeway Place" (Vancouver East)  : MLS®# R2340173
    $599,000
    Residential Attached
    Status:
    Active
    MLS® Num:
    R2340173
    Bedrooms:
    2
    Bathrooms:
    1
    Floor Area:
    742 sq. ft.
    Fantastic 2 bed corner suite at RIDGEWAY PLACE! Beautifully renovated with updated kitchen, bathroom, and flooring. The kitchen features stainless steel appliances, butcher block counters, and lots of storage. Enjoy the covered balcony and partial mountain views. Great pet friendly building recently rainscreened w/ warranty, new European tilt and turn windows, parking membrane redone and repiping completed recently. Located just steps from grocery stores, shopping, restaurants, pubs and everything Commercial Drive has to offer! Skytrain & 99 B Line close by for easy access to downtown and UBC. Comes with 1 parking & 1 storage locker. **OPEN HOUSE: Sat/Sun, Feb 16/17, 2-4 pm** More details
    Listed by RE/MAX Crest Realty
  • 1412 VICTORIA Drive in Vancouver: Grandview VE House for sale in "COMMERCIAL DRIVE" (Vancouver East) : MLS®# R2340243

    Main Photo: 1412 VICTORIA Drive in Vancouver: Grandview VE House for sale in "COMMERCIAL DRIVE" (Vancouver East)  : MLS®# R2340243
    $1,189,000
    Residential Detached
    Status:
    Active
    MLS® Num:
    R2340243
    Bedrooms:
    3
    Bathrooms:
    2
    Floor Area:
    1,902 sq. ft.
    Solid bungalow with 2 self-contained suites, across from Victoria Park, in prime Commercial Drive location! Bright main level has a 2 bedroom suite with an open living/dining room overlooking the park, and an updated kitchen with access to the back deck. Lower level has a 1 bedroom suite with great height with its own laundry and patio. Over 400 sqft of unfinished space awaiting your design ideas or great for storage! Nice little back yard with fruit trees. Easy walk to all the vibrant amenities Commercial Drive has to offer – schools, parks, cafes, shopping, markets, transit & more. Come be a part of a connected, walkable community with a bright future! Open House Sunday 12-1 More details
    Listed by Stilhavn Real Estate Services
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Listing information last updated on February 19, 2019 at 04:05 AM (UTC)

Inside Vancouver Neighbourhoods: Commercial Drive
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