Businesses look to polish Vanier's reputation this year

Haley Ritchie
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Expect to hear a lot more good things about Vanier in 2016.

Vanier business owners and residents voted Thursday on a design for a 'parklet' as part of a plan to revitalize the area.

Local business owners and residents gathered at St. Charles church Thursday for the Quarter Vanier BIA’s annual meeting to discuss the year’s successes and the challenges moving forward.

The BIA is planning on doubling its advertising budget to $25,000 as an effort to promote the neighbourhood this year.

“People’s enthusiasm and eagerness to see what’s happening is high,” said the BIA chair Mark Kaluski, who owns a business in Beechwood. “Our goal now is to try and show the broader community that Vanier is in transition.”

He points to interest by developers Claridge and ModBox and unique businesses opening, including a farmers’ market inside the historic church.

Over the past year, the BIA has poured money into giving the area a visual identity with banners and community events. The area’s underdog reputation remains the more difficult hurdle to development.

Police statistics aren’t specific to neighbourhoods, so while Vanier may have a reputation for crime, it’s hard to narrow down precise stats for the area.

The Rideau-Vanier ward has one of the highest crime rates in the city, but those statistics also include Lowertown, Sandy Hill and the city’s nightlife hub in the Byward Market.

“The biggest challenge is perception. It’s frustrating,” said Mr. Kaluski. He compared the area to Westboro, which was once notorious for crime and prostitution but is now hip and family-friendly.

Jamie Kwong, the BIA’s executive director, wants to change minds but doesn't embrace the Westboro label.

She said while the BIA is working hard on promoting the area the goal is still to retain its character and affordability.

“We’re not going to become some cookie cutter version of something else. We’ll stay Vanier,” she said. “We’re going to keep our eclecticness, our diversity, our edginess and francophone history.”

This article originally appeared on on Jan. 21.

Geographic location: Beechwood, Sandy Hill

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