Strategies in Urban Affordability

All While Living in one of the Word’s most Well Loved and Most Expensive Cities

 Eco Friendly Community Building Low to No Impact and Cost Options in Vancouver BC

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An invitation to build community by participating in low to no cost events.

Affordable Feasting with Foodies

Foodie Event Listings and Information: Grandview Woodland Food Connection: “A Neighborhood Food Network dedicated to supporting the health and well-being of all residents living in Grandview Woodland and nearby neighbourhoods by promoting an accessible, just and sustainable food system for our community.”

Community Dinners:

Little Mountain Neighbourhood House Community Dinners: “A delicious, nutritious, and low-cost 3-course meal. 20 seats available each week. First come, first served. Local residents have priority when space is limited. Dinner is served at 5:00pm. Cost: $4.00 for adult members/ $5.00 for non-members. When: Fridays (weekly, ongoing)”

Gordon Neighbourhood House Community Dinners: “West End Family Night: (Every second Monday of the month), Cost: Free with a GNH membership of $5. All families welcome! Dinner provided, first come, first served.”


MeatlessMeetup on Seasonal potlucks are the best, Christmas and Thanksgiving, offering 100+ vegetarian or vegan options, plus sponsored by local bakeries, main course and desserts, family friendly. A great opportunity to network with foodies about the latest eco friendly ways to be health conscious.   “We’re foodies with an environmental conscience & a concern for animal welfare. Food at our events is vegan, but we’re not a vegan group. Anyone interested in lowering their carbon footprint by eating more plant based meals, even if they are not planning or trying to go fully veg, has found the right group!”

Village Vancouver: Also offers an annual free potluck with 100+ dishes, including great live music and educational booths, usually at Heritage Hall that is work checking out.

The Food Connection: “The Food Connection is an open community of food-loving folks who meet for potlucks and free food workshops every last Wednesday of the month…To empower people to lead, collaborate and experiment with food through hands-on learning.”!about_us/c1se

Farmers Markets:

Many are offered year round, a great source for local produce, live musical entertainment, and food truck food.

Fresh Roots: “We enact our mission through Schoolyard Market Gardens, educational farms where the food we grow is sold into the school community: into the cafeteria, food access programs, and to our neighbours. We facilitate outdoor experiential learning with teachers and students, mentor youth leaders through our garden club and summer programing, and empower Vancouverites to grow their own through our volunteer programs. Fresh Roots also works with organizations to develop their own market gardens and associated garden programing. We are a thought leader in institutional food systems change and outdoor experiential learning”

Staying Educated 

Village Vancouver Workshops: Offering monthly free potlucks and educational based workshops at various locations around the city. From East Van Commercial Drive at Rising Star Coop Common Room, to Main Street Little Mountain Neighbourhood House to Kits and even downtown. Everyone brings food to share, followed by a free workshop about topics including: how to make soap, kombutcha, kifir, hot houses, seed saving, backyard chickens, salsa making tutorials, how to make a dehumidifier, upcycled crafting projects, clothing swaps, permaculture and more.

“Village Vancouver Main Street Workshops: Food Security & Sustainable Living: Workshops with Village Vancouver (Main Street). Monthly workshops focus on quality of life issues: growing local food, gardening and seed saving, renewable energy, recycling, low-impact transportation, bike maintenance, bee keeping and backyard chickens.”

Local Lending Libraries: “It highlights an innate goodness in people and a shared longing for a sense of community fostered through a love of books… Some have grown to include free vegetables, knick-knacks and doggy bags to passersby.”

Ethical Threads

Clothing Thrift Stores: 

Value Village at Commercial and Hastings:

Wildlife Thrift Store Downtown:

Clothing Swaps:

Community Upcycling Clothing Swaps: Clothing swaps empower individuals by providing an affordable option for residents to clothe their families, fashionistas to update their wardrobes, and community members to have a social space to reconnect while they “shop”. hosts a variety of clothing swaps on a regular basis:

Free Finds

Apartment Free Store: A free zone was set up in my apartment complex. The setup is basic with shelf to house the free stuff, a bulletin board for posting notices. Residents and visitors are free to get rid of their stuff in an indoor covered area (rather than the alleyway) and for other residents to get first picks of new to them treasures. From clothing, to wine, to lulu lemon and Mountain equipment Bags, stationary supplies, clothing for animals, and more I never know what to expect when I’m on my way out.

The Free Market: Offered at Grandview Park every second Sunday in the summers.  This concept is exactly how it sounds, a pop up style store where everything is free for the giving of the taking.

Alleyways: At the end of the month in the summer there is no shortage of castaway options up for grabs. Usually mattresses and furniture, sometimes kitchen gadgets and electronics. Once well cleaned, many items can be repaired or upcycled into fully functional options for everyday living.

Handmade Gifting and Upcycling Resources

The Resource Exchange: “The Resource Exchange collects materials and items no longer in use from Strathcona businesses, and makes them available to other community members who have a use for them. The Resource Exchange has a healthy assortment of wood, fabric, plastic straps, plastics cases, leather off-cuts, presentation boxes and glass bottles. We also have some great new arrivals, such as gardening equipment, paint supplies, protective cleaning supplies and plastic containers. The SBIA is excited to continue to help member businesses divert valuable materials and items from the landfill at our new location!”

Eco Friendly Crafting Options: Crafternoons: Upcycling on the North Shore with Denise from Thrifty By Design, “’Crafternoons’ are when you take time to craft with a bunch of peeps… Maybe knitting, canning, wedding DIYs or in this case making kewl stuff out of ‘junk’. Thrifty By Design Crafternoons are upcycling workshops for all ages and all skill levels. Crafting really is da bomb and a great way to get creative, try something new and meet neato people.”

Fix-It Collective: Are entire workshops with a focus around keeping broken items out of the landfills. “By fixing, we can continue to tell those stories, and pass items down through generations and have those stories told well beyond our time. By fixing we also learn, empower each other, and come together to build resilient communities.”

Tool Library: “We loan a wide variety of tools for home repair, gardening, and bicycle maintenance. We also offer affordable workshops on tool related skills and projects.  We are motivated by a vision of our community empowered by the tools and skills needed to transform their homes and communities into vibrant spaces that reflect a commitment to sustainability. To get there, we are creating a community resource that will reduce the costs of improving and greening the places in which we live, work, and play.”

Garage Sales: Check on craigslist for listing, or most weekends in the summer they tend to pop up. There are events with a garage sale focus that offer 175+ garage sales in one day, notably the annual event that only continues to grow in the Grandview Woodland area. With low to no cost options, there are treasures to be found in the hunt.

Foraging Local Seasonal Edibles:

Falling Fruit: “A massive, collaborative map of the urban harvest. By uniting the efforts of foragers, freegans, and foresters everywhere, the map already points to over a half million food sources around the world (from plants and fungi to water wells and dumpsters). Our rapidly growing user community is actively exploring, editing, and adding to the map.”

The Vancouver Fruit Tree Project: “A non-profit society. Our volunteers harvest extra fruit from backyard fruit trees and redistribute it to community groups. In the past 14 years we have picked more than 48,000 pounds (that’s over 24 tons!) of fruit and redistributed it to community centres, neighbourhood houses, daycares and other community groups.”

Urban Living with Little Ones

Toy Lending Library: “Maybe your kids get bored easily, or you want to try toys before committing to buy them, or you want to save some money.  If this sounds like you, you may want to consider toy lending/borrowing instead of buying, or to complement the toys you have purchased.”

Family Friendly Zero Waste Café Offering Community Building Workshops: “lupii cafe is a zero-waste cafe, dedicated to environmental and social sustainability while providing delicious food and beverages…lupii cafe is also devoted to cultivating and promoting a sense of community. We do this by hosting community events, supporting local businesses, fundraising for charitable causes and encouraging interaction and communication in the surrounding area.”

Know of a great resource yet to be included on this list? Please let me know!  

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An invitation to build community by participating in low to no cost events.