Katherine Burnett* - University of Victoria
The Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, British Columbia, remains one of the poorest off-reserve neighbourhoods in Canada, yet is also a site of rapid gentrification. Both novel and revitalised restaurants have created new spaces of consumption. As the neighbourhood increasingly becomes a dining destination, the terms of the socio-spatial dialectic are rapidly shifting.
This paper studies these new spaces of consumption in the Downtown Eastside, the discourses they employ to draw customers, and the effect they have on the urban fabric of the surrounding area. Considering the Downtown Eastside as a collection of real and imagined spaces, this paper will document the ways in which the emerging restaurant culture is shaping the built and the perceived environment.
While the Downtown Eastside is still often constructed as an undesirable place to visit, some urban dwellers in Vancouver and the surrounding area are visiting the neighbourhood for dining and leisure, experiencing it from the perspectives of outsiders. Research on tourism is applied to these urban tourists and to understanding their contribution to local gentrification.