As part of the Re-Imagine Downtown Vancouver initiative, we interviewed a cross-section of people who share a passion for our city’s downtown to feature in our inspiration video.
Reviewing the interview transcripts, we realized that we had recorded a lot of great ideas and stories that didn’t make it into the final cut of the video. To ensure that these ideas and stories didn’t get lost, we will be sharing them with you in a series of posts.
Here is our interview with Tom James, co-founder of The Urban Tea Merchant.
What does downtown Vancouver mean to you?
What Vancouver represents to me in the future is the beauty of the natural surroundings and the connectedness that we have as different cultures come into our city and we are able to experience the things that they offer.
I think it’s the diversity of the people and the connections that people can have with one another. That is the most important part of downtown Vancouver.
We have customers coming in all the time and I’m able to be in front of them all the time. They talk, of course, about the beauty of t he ocean and the mountains and the greenery. But what really is the important part of Vancouver are the people; and I think we have a real diversified community. Within our store, we have the opportunity of serving afternoon teas and allowing people to sit and talk and chat. They talk to us an awful lot about this sense of community and the friendliness and the acceptance that we have within the community.
What excites you about the future of downtown Vancouver?
What excites me about Vancouver is the beauty that it offers but also the opportunity to be able to connect with a number of cultures and diversity that we have within this world within one city. Vancouver is a growing market. And there are so many people from different countries coming to visit us, and then realizing the beauty that we have around us.
What I get excited about is what each culture is bringing into the community and adding to the diversity.
I think if we’re able to continue capture that beauty that we have within the city, with the natural resources that we have and then add to it the beautiful cultural diversity that we can have within the city, that’s what I’m excited about. I’m excited about the energy that people are bringing from other cultures.
How do you think the downtown Vancouver experience should look, taste and feel in the future?
I think that’s an excellent question; because what you’re talking about is an experience when you talk about look, taste and feel. The look has got to be the most beautiful place in the world, obviously. And we need to be able to continue having that experience. The taste is the diversity of food and the diversity of things that we can drink like the teas that we represent within the Urban Tea Merchant. The feel is, you just walk around and it’s a friendly feel. It’s a feel of being able to connect with all different people from all around the world.
So we’re surrounded by the natural beauty of Vancouver, the ocean, the mountains and the greenery that surround us. But we also have an incredible opportunity to be able to make a city that’s alive and energetic with the food that we eat, the drinks that we drink, the teas that we have and all the experiences are going into the different parts of the city.