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Urban Planning

All Hail Kingsgate Mall! Now Starring in a Music Video

The Arkells and Tegan and Sara visit our unpretentious gentrification survivor.

Christopher Cheung 7 Sep

Christopher Cheung reports on urban issues for The Tyee. Follow him on Twitter at @bychrischeung.

Leave it to Canadian artists Arkells and Tegan and Sara to choose Vancouver’s Kingsgate Mall — a Mount Pleasant landmark that we’re frankly surprised has not yet received heritage status — as the setting of their latest music video.

What better place to capture "Teenage Tears” than the empty corridors of a 1970s-era mall after hours? Arkells frontman Max Kerman and the eponymous Tegan and Sara stroll through a closed Kingsgate and sit at a table by the mall’s lotto booth and a bench in front of Indian eatery Chai69.

Tegan Quin took the time to share some secrets behind the music video’s production with CBC.

Originally, they had a few aging or eclectic Vancouver malls in mind. There was the West End’s Denman Place Mall, which is still lined with indoor Victorian street lamps. There was Downtown’s International Village, formerly known as Tinseltown, which had its own brush with celebrity back in 2016 when Adele visited its cat café.

Neither mall got back to them — it’s fate that Kingsgate’s management did.

Quin lived in Mount Pleasant in the 2000s. “When I was living there, I felt like I was part of a special club,” she told CBC.

Kingsgate Mall, built in 1974, feels a bit like an anomaly, sandwiched as it is between the turn-of-the-century look when Mount Pleasant emerged as a streetcar suburb over a hundred years ago, and its modern face as a hip destination for beer, boutiques and booming tech (some call the area Mount Pixel).

Kingsgate Mall has survived each wave of gentrification — perhaps because it’s not owned by some landlord waiting to cash out, but by the city’s school board, which is still figuring out what to do with the property. As a result, many of the mall’s offerings, from unpretentious staples like Shoppers Drug Mart to bargain clothing and the Buy-Low Foods upstairs, are very welcome, especially to those residents hanging onto cheap rents in old apartment buildings as the neighbourhood upscales.

As Vancouver’s self-styled mall correspondent — who this summer brought you the history of malls, the tale of a tai chi master at a Richmond mall and a collection of mall memories from Tyee readers — I also once interviewed the inhabitants of Kingsgate Mall for a feature in the Vancouver Courier, from a 79-year-old oil painter to the owner of a food stall that sold lobster rolls and sugarcane juice freshly pressed before your very eyes.

That was when I met mall manager Leyda Molnar. She was the mall’s curator, bringing in typical mall programming, such as dragon dancers on Lunar New Year and Irish dancers for St. Patrick’s Day, but also unique additions like a Bitcoin machine and art installations with ponderous names like “Transitions — Ecological ; Tautological.”

“We’re a community shopping centre, so you gotta involve the community,” she told me.

And now, Kingsgate is in a music video. Check it out above.  [Tyee]

Read more: Music, Urban Planning

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