Rent increases squeezing Red Gate Arts Society in East Van

Is Lululemon founder Chip Wilson forcing a non-profit arts group to find a new home?

Nathaniel Christopher Xtra [Vancouver, B.C.]
Ana Rose Carrico, co-director of East Vancouver’s Red Gate Arts Society, says the real estate market is hurting artists.
Photo: Nathaniel Christopher

An East Vancouver arts organization that hosts queer events says it’s facing eviction for the second time in five years, due to a proposed rent increase by its new landlords.

“We’re just looking for a new building but the speculative real estate market in Vancouver right now makes it really difficult for places like this,” says Red Gate Arts Society co-director Ana Rose Carrico. “Our mandate is to provide studio space that’s as cheap as possible.”

Red Gate hosts several queer events, including the Denim Vest dance parties. “We tend to cater to the East Van queer community because there aren’t really many venues in East Vancouver, which is kind of surprising because a large part of that demographic lives there,” she says.

In addition to creating queer space, Carrico says the society helps foster “the grassroots of music and art culture in Vancouver.”

“We’re here to provide peoples’ first studios for musicians that haven’t played a lot of shows and artists who probably couldn’t get their own gallery show somewhere else. We have a lot of people who are just out of school, a lot of people who are in their first band,” she says.

She says Red Gate moved into its current space at 855 E Hastings St in 2013 and signed a three-year lease. During that time, she says, the property was purchased by Low Tide Properties, a company owned by Lululemon founder Chip Wilson.

“We approached them about the idea of getting a long-term lease with them, which would make us eligible for additional grant money,” she explains.

“They wanted to increase the rent by a substantial amount, which we then agreed to,” she continues.

“But after we agreed to it, they changed their mind and said that it would have to be double what we are paying now in order for us to get a long-term lease,” she alleges.

Carrico thinks Low Tide only made the second request because it didn’t expect Red Gate to accept its first offer. 

“It feels like they probably had no intention of having a non-profit arts society in this space,” she alleges.

Daily Xtra reached out to Wilson and to Low Tide for comment but did not receive a response by posting time.

Carrico says rent increases forced Red Gate out of is previous space in the 100 block of West Hastings in October 2011 too.

“There used to be eight artist studios in that area and now there are none,” she says.

She says artists are “doubly hit” by the real estate shortage. “They have to find both home and a studio space.”

I am a resident of Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada, who has been blogging here for nearly 25 years. I enjoy sharing my thoughts and feelings on my own online platform. From 1998 until 2017, I worked as a journalist, and I have posted most of my articles in the 'News' section of this website.