The neighbourhood known as ‘Lolo’
Throughout the twentieth century, North Vancouver’s waterfront district hummed with the rhythm of hard work, home to ship building, lumber mills and a transportation hub.
Nowadays, the gentrified Lower Lonsdale, known by locals as “LoLo”, is where high-rise residential towers, trendy restaurants, and a sense of community occupy the waterfront once dominated by industry.
With density comes change
We headed out to the Tap and Barrel pub to talk with some of the locals, including RCMP Corporal Richard de Jong, CKNW News Anchor Ria Renouf, and salmon shop owner Costa Zogaris.
Zogaris’ business has been affected by the neighbourhood’s growth, but not necessarily in the way you’d expect.
“It’s diluting the business in one way, because there’s been so much growth in different areas like Lynn Valley, West Vancouver, where these were our customers, actually. These were the customers that used to come to us, that are now sort of blocked off. For instance, I live in West Vancouver, it used to take me twelve minutes to get [to Lower Lonsdale], no matter what. It’s now nineteen to twenty minutes…there’s no way I’m going to get here under nineteen minutes. Those were the things that have really changed. Other than that, I think there’s a lot of potential in this area; I think it’s really going to grow.”
What about safety? North Vancouver RCMP Corporal Richard de Jong says demands have changes with the neighbourhood.
“North Vancouver RCMP has seen a change with the density in the Lower Lonsdale area. I think anytime there’s a change in density comes policing challenges; more people in a smaller area, diversity of the population as well. Our community policing office – which is just two streets up from here, is run by volunteers. I was talking to one of them yesterday, and they say they offer services in eight different languages. We know years ago that wouldn’t have been the situation. So, we see a greater diversity in the population groups, and with that are some unique challenges – and opportunities, of course. With the density here, and with the SeaBus being an opportunity for people commuting to the city, also brings different people to the Shore. We’re very strategic in our policing strategies.”
Walking the beat
De Jong says it’s spawned a local foot patrol, which is more community-based.
“It’s an enforcement initiative, funded by the City of North Vancouver, and our officers go out in pairs, in full uniform, with the hat on, and get out of their car, and just walk amongst the people. Into the businesses, to the SeaBus area, see who is coming off, see who is leaving, talk with people…it’s been a great success. Just having people feel like there’s police in the community; feeling protected. It’s the old cop on the beat. [People in the community] want to see you, so we’ve done it for six years in a row, now, and have had great success.”
Safety successes aren’t the only story here.
The changes to The Shore have drawn in plenty of people from other parts of B.C. – and beyond.
Ria Renouf grew up in another part of the Lower Mainland, and chose to make the move to the north shore in February of 2015.
“It’s such a night and day difference from where I was living. Now, I’m right off of Lonsdale, so I come home, I see this beautiful view of the water, and my Friday nights are generally at The Shipyards; I’m enjoying the night market there. There’s so much to do; there’s so much personality here… That was part of what brought us to the shore. I like the different kinds of businesses that we have, plus – I feel safe in this community. Everything ties together quite nicely. Just the traffic would be a small thing…but other than that, overall, the experience, and living in Lower Lonsdale…I’m just happy to be here! Happy to live here; it’s getting busier, but the community is definitely amazing.”
The area expects to see more change too, with an outdoor skating rink and a water park slated to arrive in the next few years.