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Coal Harbour Resident Janice Hillinger Tells us About the 'Hood

The People's Guide is Curbed Vancouver's tour o' the nabes, led by our most loyal readers, favorite bloggers, and other luminaries of our choosing. Have a piece to say? We'll be happy to hand over the megaphone. This time around, we welcome Coal Harbour resident and marketing guru Janice Hillinger.


Tell us something we don't know about your neighbourhood: Living in Downtown Vancouver's "Georgia Corridor," I consider both Coal Harbour and northwest Robson Street to be part of my neighbourhood. Perhaps not everyone knows that the northwest end of Robson Street was once a commercial and cultural hub for German-Canadians who settled in the city, which earned the area the nickname "Robsonstrasse."

Local customs of note: The first thing I noticed after moving to my neighbourhood from one of the city's more popular nightlife districts is that at 5am the street is full of joggers rather than people doing the "walk of shame." It's a health-oriented community and I like that.

Hidden gems in your neighbourhood: The restaurant, Forage, is outstanding. Characterized by its seasonal, locally sourced food and its friendly, unpretentious staff, it achieves being "busy" without being a "scene." It's an ideal place to unwind over a great meal. Sura Korean Cuisine offers a mega-multi-course lunch at an economical price. If you haven't tried Korean food before, it's a perfect introduction. While not really "hidden," the staff at the JJ Bean at Alberni and Bute make early mornings more palatable with their awesome coffee and personalities. Definitely neighbourhood gems.

Are your neighbours "rotten neighbour" worthy? If so, dish. If not, what makes them great? My neighbourhood attracts really nice people in general. It's a multicultural community with residents ranging widely in age. I think the people who live here are attracted by its proximity to the ocean and parks, as well as immediate access to the city core.

Inflate the bubble or burst it: What's not so swell about your "perfect" neighbourhood? There is reportedly a significant number of empty condos in the area, essentially investment properties or pied-à-terres for out-of-town residents. This frustrates some locals because foreign demand is a factor in local pricing. Then again, this is what makes the neighbourhood feel calm and quiet, despite its physical density.

The final word on your neighbourhood: I love my neighbourhood. These days I rarely leave it except to get on a plane. The one thing missing is a great little bakery, you know, one where every loaf of bread on the shelf was baked that morning. At least, I haven't found it yet.