Frequently asked questions
How many corner stores do we have in Vancouver? How has this number changed over time?
At their peak, in the 1920s, there were approximately 260 active corner stores in the city. When the first zoning bylaw was introduced, corner stores were seen as undesirable in residential areas. New stores were not allowed to be built, and the number of existing stores started to decline.
By the 1970s, the number of stores had declined to roughly 105. There are currently approximately 90 corner store businesses today. While the can be found throughout the city, there are more of them in north-eastern neighbourhoods, including Strathcona, Grandview-Woodland, Hastings-Sunrise, Mt. Pleasant and Riley Park.
How have the rules for corner stores changed over time?
In 1980, in response to community concern about the loss of corner stores, the City introduced the “Neighbourhood Grocery Store” definition into the Zoning Bylaw. With this addition, existing stores selling groceries had some protection. Other types of shops and services operating in these stores were (and are) allowed to continue operating based on older rules. They are considered “legally non-conforming” – meaning they do not comply with current zoning regulations. If they close, they may not easily be able to re-open.
The Neighbourhood Grocery Store definition was revised in 2016 to allow the sale of prepared foods (e.g. sandwiches) and a small seating area for patrons (with up to 16 seats).
In 2021, further changes were made. A restriction that required Neighbourhood Grocery Stores to be "existing as of 1980" was removed -- creating the opportunity for new stores to be created. Also, rules for the types of housing allowed with corner stores was streamlined across different residential zones.