Little Mountain Gallery is the latest to suffer due to Vancouver’s increasing gentrification

Why are we still losing artist space after the city released a report saying they would protect it?

Photo via Instagram
Photo via Instagram

by Marco Ovies, Arts Editor

The next time you walk past Little Mountain Gallery (LMG) you might notice a development application up on the building. Why is this important, you ask? Well, it’s because this is one of the few not-for-profit art and cultural spaces in Vancouver. This comes right on the heels of the City of Vancouver’s Making Space for Arts and Culture report which, according to their website, “lays out [their] long term vision to optimize City policies and tools to secure, enhance, and develop vibrant, affordable, and accessible arts and cultural spaces.” 

If LMG is redeveloped it will result in the loss of 2,000 square feet of space for artists to work and perform in, which is in addition to the almost 400,000 square feet of artist space that has been lost in the last 10 years. While the building owner has every right to develop the area, it goes against the promise the city has laid out to protect independant spaces like LMG.

These places need the lower rent that comes with older buildings in order to survive and cannot afford to exist in newer developments. And even if they were given a new space, the charm and history of LMG would be lost forever. 

Walking into LMG has a sort of hole-in-the-wall feel. Inside, the space features a small stage with around 60 folding chairs surrounding it. Beer is served out of cooler (but is always ice cold) and the entire space just feels homey. This is because the building has been around for almost a century. According to a board letter that LMG has drafted in response to the development application, the building was “built in 1930 [and] was originally the location of Curly’s Automotive Garage. Since then, it has been a sheet metal shop, plumbing and heating outlet, a soda pop bottle depot, and a seafood market before becoming a home for the arts in 2001 — first as the Butchershop Collective.”

The development of this property is the destruction of history. How do we feel about living in a city that consists entirely of condos and chain restaurants? LMG — alongside many other artist spaces — is a large part of Vancouver’s history and what makes this city great. If we don’t address the growing problem of gentrification in our city, then we will continue to lose places like LMG.

If you would like to see Little Mountain Gallery stay in its current location, please send a (respectful) email to Vancouver’s project coordinator Niall Coffey (niall.coffey@vancouver.ca) addressing your concern.