Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Guest Article: Reigning in the Chain Stores

Nick Havard recently spent time in British Columbia and has kindly guest authored this article for Musings of an Urbanist.  Nick explores the issues surrounding food and grocery stores in Vancouver and why the city could do more to build on the healthy attitudes of the local population.  Thanks Nick!
I don’t recall seeing many fruit and vegetable shops in Vancouver when I visited recently. However, when we did find these shops the quality was fantastic. I noticed occasional roadside stalls on the drive to Calgary, but generally it seemed pretty difficult to stay away from the big chains, especially in the cities. I suppose this isn’t all that different from the high street in England, but it just seemed to me that it was more of a challenge to quickly pick up an apple in Vancouver than it is over here.

Vancouver struck me as a very healthy place. On a sunny day walking from Gastown to Stanley Park, we saw lots of people jogging, cycling and generally keeping fit. So it surprised me to find that, when driving down the street, we would pass block after block of generic fast food chains. McDonald’s, Burger King – the usual suspects – as well as new ones for me such as Wendy’s and Tim Horton’s. I’m no health freak, but I couldn’t help but feel that these buildings could be put to better use. 
I would love to see more quality local greengrocers present on the high street. I don’t know if there are restrictions on how many fast food restaurants there can be in any one area – perhaps there should be. Either way, I feel that a balance could be struck between these and shops celebrating nutritious local produce. It would, no doubt, fit in well with such a seemingly health-conscious city such as Vancouver to have healthy local food clearly on offer, while at the same time limiting the availability of fast food.

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