Just days after Italian Day festivities, Vancouver City Council has approved a motion to officially designate Commercial Drive as the city’s “Little Italy” neighbourhood.
The motion, which passed unanimously, was submitted by NPA councillor Melissa De Genova to recognize Commercial Drive’s place as the focal point of Vancouver’s Italian history and heritage for more than half a century.
“Italian immigrants to Vancouver who settled in the northern Commercial Drive area the 1940s and 1950s are widely credited with revitalizing the neighbourhood,” the motion reads. “Although many Italian businesses also sprang up in the Hastings and Nanaimo area in the 1960’s, the cultural core of Vancouver’s Italian community remained in the Commercial Drive area.”
The municipal government estimates that at least 30 businesses over a seven block radius and over 80 per cent of the buildings are Italian-owned and/or operated. As well, the Italian Day festival held on the street each year is one of the city’s largest events, drawing as many as 350,000 attendees annually.
Little India adds to Vancouver’s list of official ethnic enclaves, including Historic Chinatown east of downtown and Little India on Main Street in South Vancouver. The City also recently approved a ‘Little Saigon’ district on Kingsway between Fraser and Knight streets to recognize the area’s Vietnamese history.