I had the privilege (some would say misfortune) of growing up in a family business. I spent a lot of time after school and during summers in the shop and in spray booths, on crane trucks and on ladders, using all sorts of equipment and tools and generally taking in all the sights and sounds and smells (some noxious I’m sure) of a small sign manufacturing company.

I liked it so much I swore I’d never go into the business. At the same time, the experience left me with a lot of respect for industry and those who work in it.

It probably also explains why it hasn’t bothered me on a few occasions to live closer to light-industrial areas than some would likely prefer. At least I’ve always had the impression most people are quite happy with the almost complete segregation of residential and industrial uses that began nearly a century ago.

But that appears to be changing in many markets, including Vancouver, where there’s been a strong push by the City and developers to create residential projects located in former industrial areas near the port. Some projects are going further than that, including the Strathcona Village development, which will be among the first in Canada to feature industrial and residential use in the same building.

Although some are attributing this trend to the simple lack of available land at affordable prices, there seems to be more to it than that. Based on the uptake, it looks like many actually prefer the grittiness and real life of such neighbourhoods – not to mention the proximity to micro-breweries!

It will be interesting to see what new challenges these projects present over time, and what sorts of innovations they give rise to as a result, like their more mature cousins, commercial-residential developments.