In “False Creek Change,” Vancouver indie group Said the Whale sing about the gentrification of the city, of saying goodbye to a place they once called home:
False Creek changed in ‘86
the year Expo exploited her shore
It’s been twenty-two years laying down bricks
and there’s no room for me here any more, any more
there’s no room for me here anymore
I made my mark in ‘84
Born to the month of June
My home at the heart of Charleson Park
I never thought I’d be leaving so soon, so soon
Never thought I’d be leaving so soon
Those are some pictures of False Creek today. With all its seafoam glass condos and precious view corridors, you’d hardly think it was one of the city’s key industrial sites prior to the 1980s when it got cleaned up for Expo. People who could no longer afford to stay, left. There’s no room for me here anymore.
I was reminded of Said the Whale’s song when reading about how the City of Vancouver is pledging to help artists find stable, long-term studio space after a number of them had to vacate a heritage building on 901 Main Street. You can read the article in The Vancouver Sun.
To help provide more space for Vancouver’s 8200 artists, the City has proposed turning two empty, city-owned buildings along Industrial Avenue in False Creek Flats – 251 & 281, into art studios. Together, the buildings comprise over 26 000 square feet.
It’s tough to be an artist in a city where the rent is so expensive. Artists need affordable space to make their art. They need a room of one’s own, to borrow Virginia Woolf’s phrase.
If this proposal goes through, it will make room for a certain kind of people in False Creek again – artists whose creative endeavours are often suited to older, industrial warehouses with their open floor layouts, large windows and high ceilings. Maybe it will welcome back to a place (and home) artists who have new songs to record, pictures to paint, and stories to write about that won’t just be farewell, there’s no room for me here anymore.