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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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  • 303 2736 VICTORIA Drive in Vancouver: Grandview VE Townhouse for sale in "ROYAL VICTORIA GARDENS" (Vancouver East) : MLS®# R2290319

    Open House on Saturday, July 21, 2018 2:00PM - 4:00PM
    Open House on Sunday, July 22, 2018 2:00PM - 4:00PM
    Main Photo: 303 2736 VICTORIA Drive in Vancouver: Grandview VE Townhouse for sale in "ROYAL VICTORIA GARDENS" (Vancouver East)  : MLS®# R2290319
    $739,000
    Residential Attached
    Status:
    Active
    MLS® Num:
    R2290319
    Bedrooms:
    2
    Bathrooms:
    2
    Floor Area:
    977 sq. ft.
    Welcome to this completely remodelled 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom corner suite! Located close to the Skytrain and Trout Lake, this reimagined 977 sq ft home features brand new engineered oak flooring, a showpiece gas fireplace, smoothed ceilings throughout and ample recessed lighting. The spacious dining area and kitchen allow you to comfortably entertain and feature KitchenAid appliances, quartz countertops and plenty of storage. A king-size master bedroom plus second bedroom each provide double closets with built-in organizers, while both brand new bathrooms offer a clean and timeless retreat. Royal Victoria Gardens is a partially rain-screened building with newer decks and railings, a new parkade membrane and just completed re-piping! Pets welcome! More details
    Listed by Oakwyn Realty Ltd.
  • 317 1549 KITCHENER Street in Vancouver: Grandview VE Condo for sale in "DHARMA" (Vancouver East) : MLS®# R2290285

    Main Photo: 317 1549 KITCHENER Street in Vancouver: Grandview VE Condo for sale in "DHARMA" (Vancouver East)  : MLS®# R2290285
    $499,000
    Residential Attached
    Status:
    Active
    MLS® Num:
    R2290285
    Bedrooms:
    1
    Bathrooms:
    1
    Floor Area:
    638 sq. ft.
    WELCOME to DHARMA - located just one block from 'The Drive'. A 1 bdrm, 638 sq ft, north-facing condo with massive covered balcony. 2 blocks from Grandview Park. Step inside this bright suite as recessed lighting has been added throughout. Completely renovated OPEN kitchen with new counters, sink, cupboards. Bathroom is updated with radiant heat floors and new tiling. Dharma is a great building with newer gutters, boiler, roof, and re-piped (2014). A bonus storage room which could be a walk-in closet. Low maintenance fee includes heat and hot water. A building that allows pets and rentals + 1 secured parking stall complete the package. More details
    Listed by Sutton Group-West Coast Realty
  • 1511 - 1513 SALSBURY Drive in Vancouver: Grandview VE House for sale (Vancouver East) : MLS®# R2289953

    Main Photo: 1511 - 1513 SALSBURY Drive in Vancouver: Grandview VE House for sale (Vancouver East)  : MLS®# R2289953
    $1,398,000
    Residential Detached
    Status:
    Active
    MLS® Num:
    R2289953
    Bedrooms:
    4
    Bathrooms:
    3
    Floor Area:
    2,174 sq. ft.
    Welcome to 1511-1513 Salsbury in the heart of Commercial Drive. Excellent investment property or starter home. Upper level 2 Bdrm rented to long term tenants rent is below market but can be increased over time. Main floor 1bdrm could be a great owner unit with option to use the basement as additional living space or continue as a rental unit. Main level is rented as a two bedroom with tenants using dining room as a bedroom. The basement has been used as a suite with 1 bedroom, living room and bathroom but no kitchen. A kitchen could be easily installed to make three great units. House does need some TLC. 1/2 block to Victoria Park, 1 block to vibrant and colourful Commercial Drive. More details
    Listed by Raymar Realty Ltd.
  • 201 1515 E BROADWAY in Vancouver: Grandview VE Condo for sale in "CALEDONIA" (Vancouver East) : MLS®# R2289697

    Open House on Saturday, July 21, 2018 2:00PM - 4:00PM
    Open House on Sunday, July 22, 2018 2:00PM - 4:00PM
    Main Photo: 201 1515 E BROADWAY in Vancouver: Grandview VE Condo for sale in "CALEDONIA" (Vancouver East)  : MLS®# R2289697
    $549,900
    Residential Attached
    Status:
    Active
    MLS® Num:
    R2289697
    Bedrooms:
    2
    Bathrooms:
    1
    Floor Area:
    779 sq. ft.
    A beautiful unit situated in perfect location! This 2 bedroom corner unit receives plenty of light and has 2 balconies: 21'4'' x 3'9'' (80sqft) & 8'8'' x 3'7'' (31sqft) ! Bedrooms face quieter street (Woodland Drive). This unit boasts a newer kitchen with S/S appliances and newer renovations including newer laminate flooring, newer bathroom, and crown moldings. It also comes with 1 parking and 1 spacious locker. Commercial - Broadway Station, restaurants & Shopping are less than a 5-minute walk away; bus stations are steps away. North of the building is a beautiful park. RENTALS AND PETS ALLOWED! Open House July 21-22 2-4pm (Sat&Sun). More details
    Listed by RE/MAX Central
  • 311 1540 E 4TH Avenue in Vancouver: Grandview VE Condo for sale in "The Woodland" (Vancouver East) : MLS®# R2288950

    Open House on Saturday, July 21, 2018 2:00PM - 4:00PM
    Main Photo: 311 1540 E 4TH Avenue in Vancouver: Grandview VE Condo for sale in "The Woodland" (Vancouver East)  : MLS®# R2288950
    • Floorplan
    $499,000
    Residential Attached
    Status:
    Active
    MLS® Num:
    R2288950
    Bedrooms:
    1
    Bathrooms:
    1
    Floor Area:
    692 sq. ft.
    Don't miss out on the Commercial Drive cutie; freshly painted, clean and bright with a quiet location just off the Drive. Spacious one bedroom and den that easily converts to a second bedroom. South East facing top floor corner suite has been fully rain screened in 2011 with all new windows and doors (screens provided) One Parking and storage locker also part of the Strata Lot. Open Saturday 2-4 Hope to see you there! More details
    Listed by Macdonald Realty
  • 212 1549 KITCHENER Street in Vancouver: Grandview VE Condo for sale in "DHARMA" (Vancouver East) : MLS®# R2287913

    Open House on Saturday, July 21, 2018 2:00PM - 4:00PM
    Main Photo: 212 1549 KITCHENER Street in Vancouver: Grandview VE Condo for sale in "DHARMA" (Vancouver East)  : MLS®# R2287913
    $497,000
    Residential Attached
    Status:
    Active
    MLS® Num:
    R2287913
    Bedrooms:
    1
    Bathrooms:
    1
    Floor Area:
    610 sq. ft.
    Welcome to this quiet and charming 1 bedroom home situated in the heart of Commercial Drive! Completely renovated kitchen and bathroom with tasteful designs. Beautiful upgrades include new light fixtures, new SS appliances, granite countertop, new tile backsplash and floor, new trim and paint throughout the kitchen. Bathroom features new deep tub and shower, new vanity and sink, new toilet, new tiles and floor. A newly built walk-through closet in the bedroom. Large balcony for entertainment or relaxation. Well maintained building with newer piping, gutter and boilers. Low maintenance fee includes heat and hot water. Rentals and pets are welcome. Perfect place for investment or to call home! Open House July 21, 2-4pm. More details
    Listed by RE/MAX Crest Realty
  • 1550 E 13TH Avenue in Vancouver: Grandview VE House for sale (Vancouver East) : MLS®# R2287986

    Main Photo: 1550 E 13TH Avenue in Vancouver: Grandview VE House for sale (Vancouver East)  : MLS®# R2287986
    $1,929,000
    Residential Detached
    Status:
    Active
    MLS® Num:
    R2287986
    Bedrooms:
    5
    Bathrooms:
    3
    Floor Area:
    2,053 sq. ft.
    Feel at home in this beautiful, solid character home loved by only 3 families since 1911! Desired plan - 3 Bedrooms up. Featuring W/B fireplace, original restored D/R buffet; refinished Douglas Fir floors on the main & up, original claw foot tub in upstairs bathroom, double glazed windows, front heated veranda & 2 sundecks. Sunny fenced back yard with apple, plum & pear trees. Roof, electric, windows, main floor insulation & decks replaced. Attic development & suite possible. Loads of extra storage. Deep lot & RT-5 zoning allows future strata-infill - a great investment! Walk to shops, transit, Commercial Drive, Trout Lake, Stratford Hall & Clark Park. List of renos, floor plan & more photos on agents site. Appointments through buyer's agent please. More details
    Listed by Royal LePage Sussex
  • 1290 GARDEN Drive in Vancouver: Grandview VE House for sale (Vancouver East) : MLS®# R2287597

    Main Photo: 1290 GARDEN Drive in Vancouver: Grandview VE House for sale (Vancouver East)  : MLS®# R2287597
    $1,365,500
    Residential Detached
    Status:
    Active
    MLS® Num:
    R2287597
    Bedrooms:
    3
    Bathrooms:
    2
    Floor Area:
    1,798 sq. ft.
    A much loved solid 1926 2 level residence located in prime Grandview area. Home features spacious living and dining room combined and also a generous size eating area off the kitchen. Lower level is finished with an 1 bedroom suite. Situated on a corner 33 x 115.13 duplex RT5 lot in the desirable Grandview-Woodlands location. This will allow a legal stratified duplex development. Conveniently located across Lord Nelson Elementary. 2 minute walk to local Italian meat shop (Columbus), family friendly Ranzullo Italian Food and Deli, Clinton Park and a 10 minute walk to either the Drive or the shops and restaurants on up and coming Hastings-Sunrise. More details
    Listed by Royal LePage Westside
  • 1939 1941 E 1ST Avenue in Vancouver: Grandview VE House Triplex for sale (Vancouver East) : MLS®# R2286986

    Main Photo: 1939 1941 E 1ST Avenue in Vancouver: Grandview VE House Triplex for sale (Vancouver East)  : MLS®# R2286986
    $2,500,000
    Multifamily
    Status:
    Active
    MLS® Num:
    R2286986
    Bedrooms:
    7
    Bathrooms:
    3
    Floor Area:
    3,300 sq. ft.
    ATTENTION BUILDER AND INVESTORS---Fabulous location only steps to 'The Drive' for rezoned 4 storey apartment building. Current home is in good condition with 3 units of potential revenue incoming during the planning and development stage. Please do not disturb the occupants. Call for additional information. More details
    Listed by Park Georgia Realty Ltd.
  • 1725 GARDEN Drive in Vancouver: Grandview VE House for sale (Vancouver East) : MLS®# R2285837

    Main Photo: 1725 GARDEN Drive in Vancouver: Grandview VE House for sale (Vancouver East)  : MLS®# R2285837
    $2,098,000
    Residential Detached
    Status:
    Active
    MLS® Num:
    R2285837
    Bedrooms:
    5
    Bathrooms:
    2
    Floor Area:
    2,400 sq. ft.
    ATTENTION INVESTOR, BUILDER & DEVELOPER, corner lot located in Grandview Woodland community, currently under OCP amendment for 3.5 storeys townhouse 1.45 FSR. 3 bedrooms, 1 bathroom & kitchen on main floor. 3 bedrooms, 1 bathroom & kitchen in basement with separate entrance, currently rented for $1,200/month. More details
    Listed by Royal Pacific Realty Corp.
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Listing information last updated on July 19, 2018 at 11:09 AM (UTC)

Inside Vancouver Neighbourhoods: Commercial Drive