Real Estate Frenzy and Zoning Bylaws Altering Nightlife and Culture Scene in Canada’s 2 Biggest Cities

Published January 9, 2017 by Real Estate Leads

capture1Property redevelopment for multi-unit housing is one of the most predominant trends in Canada’s big cities. It is a boon for real estate agents, developers and contractors, but there’s so many different ways rapid population growth and housing demand affect the social fabric of a city, and many of the realities of increasing densification are decidedly negative. Especially when it comes to nightlife, entertainment, and arts and culture, which collectively are a consideration when cities are evaluated on the liveability scale.

Nowhere is this more true than in Toronto and Vancouver. THUMP is VICE news music and culture channel, and in a September 2016 article Shawn Micallef from popular Canadian urbanism magazine Spacing talked about the trend and the way explosive downtown Toronto condo development has squeezed out many clubs and venues.

“In the beginning of the 2000s, you had 60,000 to 80,000 people coming down to Toronto’s clubland, and there were incredible amounts of clubs and way less residents. After each new condo opened though, that political balance tipped towards the residents. It became more about lounges instead of big clubs. Clubs take up a lot of space, and that space is only used at night, and maybe a few nights a week. It’s a lot more valuable to build something taller and bigger with more uses and more people. Those properties get easily scooped up.”

Throughout the rest of Toronto, there are still many bars and restaurants along main streets that function as small venues. However, depending on the neighbourhood, they are often restricted in terms of the size of the room, patios, and other factors. In many areas that have experienced a rapid growth of bars and restaurants, there has been significant pushback from residents regarding noise and disturbance issues.

A similar 2016 article in Vancouver’s The Georgia Straight lamented the same problem out West, noting in particular the closure of the storied Railway Club where the property has been sold and slated for redevelopment

Part of that shift is likely due to the changing demographics of the city as real estate values skyrocket, but the trend isn’t entirely driven by changing entertainment tastes. It has become significantly more difficult to run a profitable large venue as commercial rents continue to increase, and city council has made it harder to open new spaces, even in the areas where zoning permits them.

Downtown zoning for Vancouver does permit nightclubs in the Denman, Davie, and Robson Villages, Granville Street, the Central Business District, Gastown and Chinatown, but for community compatibility concerns a new nightclub requires council approval for the liquor license.

Not all Canadian cities are experiencing the same kind of pressure on their nightlife scenes from development. Halifax and Montreal haven’t had the big real estate booms and inundation of new condo construction.

There’s definitely 2 sides to this coin. Who doesn’t like seeing a great band in a more intimate venue with great sound, or losing yourself to a great DJ in a club that’s just bumping! But for those of us in the real estate business – who doesn’t like selling a home too? The onus is going to be on municipal government to get creative with zoning solutions so that nightlife and arts and cultures scenes can continue to add to the flavour of a city. Generate qualified online real estate leads in Toronto and Vancouver with