Saturday, August 1, 2009

Is Vancouver becoming unlive-able??

We have always been at the top of the most live-able cities in the world. The reasons are obvious.

However today I had a long chat with some long-term residents who believe we have moved towards a city that is becoming undone due to it's own success. Too crowded and too developed.

Lets look at this week-end. We have the Firemen and Police Games, Gay Pride Week-end, the Fireworks, Cruise ships and the usual mass of tourists plus a new arrival of Far-East home students which are subsiding many lower mainland mortgages.

The result is gridlock. It is hard to get into Stanley park, or cycle or walk around it. Driving to the supermarket is a mini expedition.

As if it wasn't bad enough having our week-days clogged with construction and filming, the week-ends have to be messed up to.

I know we should be grateful that all these activities (from tourism to filming to constant construction) bring the large number of jobs with them. Some of these jobs are even enough to pay for a reasonable life, if you didn't have to pay for housing.

It makes one wonder whether there is anyone at the helm of this, planning how our lives are being changed by the develop-at-any-cost mantra.

Where are the new down-town residents going to drive their cars, does it matter that our air quality is going down. What was the point of the Olympics? To get us on the map? Or to inconvenience locals, enrich developers and go into debt?

This week-end it was unbearably crowded everywhere I went, from Down-town to the beaches to the Grouse Grind. I am beginning to believe we do not have the land mass, or the infrastructure to become the huge world class city our Premier and the developers are trying to squeeze us into.

Are we the victims of our own success?

I am seriously starting to consider a move outside the lower mainland.

Meanwhile Larry Yatter is the first one out with the July numbers:

Lets pay particular attention to the first graph on his post and compare it to this one:


  1. Slightly off-topic, but you brought it up. For some odd reason, it's not gay pride anymore. Just plain pride. I can't can't quite figure it out, what are they proud of now?
    Suppose some-one is "proud" of being a homophobic Surrey yahoo, are they welcome at the parade? You know political correctness has gone too far when minority groups have to become all inclusive and non-offensive.
    No offense meant to to gay, proud or both people, that's for sure. As for homophobic Surrey yahoos though.... I hope your pickup truck throws a rod on the bridge.

    But as to your topic, yes, I agree. Vancouver has lost so much of it's small-town charm, and replaced it with Starbucks culture, RE religion, jingoistic flag-waving and apathy. And BTW, I've been to "worldclass cities", Vancouver isn't one, and no amount of gushing TV ads will change that.
    Most certainly we are surrounded by a worldclass location, but as far as a city goes.... Bland, overgrown small town with a parochially smug attitude.

  2. On the job for you and yours. Thanks for the mention. :)

  3. Last Wednesday evening we were on Burnaby Mountain and noticed a huge crowd gathering on the hillside. I learned they were there to see the fireworks. We couldn't stick around until after 10 that night but made plans to go tonight.

    And sure enough it was crowded. The parking lots were even full this time, and people were being turned away. This must be worth going to, huh?

    Anyhow, we found a spot on the hill and started fending off the mosquitoes. Yes, this must be worth it, we reassured ourselves. Why else would all these people be here?

    Well, by 10:05 people were leaving and loudly expressing their disappointment. It was so incredibly anti-climatic. You could barely see them.

    You see, you can't go downtown for it anymore as its too insane and the Skytrain is overloaded (you'll wait for hours). So people tried to make do, and that sucked too.

    The Festival of Lights is basically pointless for most people in this city. Everyone wants a piece of what supposedly makes Vancouver special, but it just leads to frustration. Might as well just move to a hick town somewhere.

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  5. I nearly didn't post this one. I hate naggy posts that just slam a place. Put up or get out is what I have always said.

    But today I had just about enough of traffic and crowds and over-priced everything.

    Unfortunately we have got ourselves into a bit of a ponzi situation. So we cannot say no to anything anymore and have given up control over our quality of life.

    When the city approved the tens of thousands of new units for down-town, did they think where all those cars would go. Of course not. Many suites in my building come with 3, count them, 3 parking spots.

    Of course that was the same group of geniuses who signed the Olympic village agreement.

    I know it is the long week-end and people should not be fooslish enough to travel but if they wanted to, they were pretty much stuck at the border, or behind multiple full ferry sailings, or crawling along the two-lane main highway the 'Transcanada' up the valley.

    God help us if / when we have our earthquake

  6. Well downtwon was a complete and utter zoo today. And Highway One going west out of Surrey was closed due to an accident.

    It reminded me of last summer, when they closed the Ironworker's memorial bridge for a jumper. They brought in a barge underneath the bridge and closed all 6 lanes while they talked him down.

    The whole circus took 6 hours and there was complete traffic chaos in the lower mainland, with accidents and trapped ambulances and over-heated cars.

    We live in an era when the rights of one individual trumps that of tens of thousands.

  7. Why don't you move to Toronto then, where things are SO MUCH BETTER! Less traffic, more beaches, and lots of uncrowded places there! Jeez!

    Ok, so Vancouver ain't what it used to be, agreed. Traffic sucks, agreed. Crowds suck, agreed. But there are still PLENTY of places to go off the beaten path.

    What about Lynn peak, Castle Mountain, or any mountain other than Grouse! Those trails are completely underused. It's a massive wilderness playground, and almost empty every time I go out there, while the sheep go up the glorified staircase on Grouse, thinking they are getting "the experience".

    Beaches? There's lots of beaches on the West side that are not downtown, or white rock, or any number of places! It's a friggin big ocean, with lots of coastline! And if you want to see the fireworks at English Bay, go early and plan for the crowds. Simple as that. Want to spend New Year's eve in Times Square? Don't try to get there at 10pm ... ain't gonna happen. Not that Vancouver is New York by any stretch ... but lighten up!

    It's perfectly possible to live a healthy and enjoyable lifestyle here and avoid the crowds if you plan a little, which is more than I can say about lots of other places.

    Clearly, we're all all frustrated and annoyed at the heat, the traffic, and how "things just ain't the same". Well, they ain't. So we can either plan for the new reality, or just be bummed about it. So sorry you can't just walk down the street to your private fireworks party anymore, but there are still lots of places to go where there is serenity. Just have to arrange your lifestyle a little, and be realistic.

    My two cents ...

  8. Good points Miracle. Take it as it is or leave.

    However a couple of points- all the beaches were crowded to max yesterday from Spanish banks through Kitz to the Down-town ones to the Northshore ones.

    At some stage the density of people in an area starts to detract from the experience that brought everyone there in the first place.

    I think we are getting pretty close to that.

    Can we do anything about it- no. Can we grumble about it occasionally- you bet :)

  9. Hey, remember when you could park downtown at parking meters for free on Sundays? Mid 1990s? Was that real, or am I hallucinating?

    In the future, I figure we will all have microchips on our vehicles and we will pay for everything automatically... every trip over a bridge, every parking spot. You take a wrong turn and have to backtrack on the same street *DING* cruising charge.

  10. This is a bitchin' thread. Nothing wrong with that. People can bitch about the bitchin too.

    Vancouver took way more than it fair share of immigrants in the 90s. We basically added a half million people here in a few short years.

    For some reason, The Powers That Be liked this. They seemed to think rapid population growth is needed for the economy. Well, the truth is other places don't need that to have a decent economy.

    I really hope the flood gates don't get opened again. The way The Powers That Be talk about increasing density all over the Lower Mainland, I fear that's their plan. This is a political matter, so we as citizens have a right to be concerned. At the very least, we can get them to stop hyping this place all the time with stupid parties for the rich like the Owelympics.

    As for the back country. I honestly don't care for it. Yay, rocks and trees :P Boring.

  11. Patiently Waiting:
    "At the very least, we can get them to stop hyping this place all the time with stupid parties for the rich like the Owelympics."

    Well, I still love this place, but I must agree about the Olympics impacting livability.

    THE MONEY spent on junkets and dubious projects that would be better spent on eduucation or health care (to name just two of my favorite places to spend public money)

    THE LEGACY. Are all those security cameras gonna be one of the "legacies", or are they going to dismantle the security state once it's all over? Not to mention the bills ...

    THE HYPE. It's like a fifteen year old just looked into the mirror and saw a thousand adoring fans and TV cameras. She's in love with herself now, but once the party is over she'll be left with a bill, some souvenir photos and her coke-spoon. Will she ever really recover from the abuse, or will she just continue to seek out new enablers?

    "As for the back country. I honestly don't care for it. Yay, rocks and trees :P Boring."

    To each his own. As far as I am concerned, sanity is away from the concrete and glass. And it's still there, even with the Owelimpics. They can't put security cameras in every tree, can they? :-o

  12. Unfortunately the entire world is getting too crowded. There are 6.7 BILLION people on this planet, and we show no signs of slowing our growth. One has to wonder how long we can keep this up before we resort to cannibalism.

    Honestly I think something like a 3 child policy would not be a terrible idea. Obvious exceptions for people who have 6 kids at once (a la jon and kate plus 8) and things like that. If something doesnt happen to slow down population growth there are going to be a hell of a lot more starving people in the world very soon. And there are already far too many.

  13. Wow, a lot of negativity in here this weekend. I get a sense that some of you are career complainers.

    This past weekend was great. I didn't even notice traffic. The weather was nice and most people are just going about their day happily.

  14. Anon

    Not 'career complainers' just a side job.

    I must get on the same anti-depressant you are taking.

  15. hehe. got back from a long weekend at a glorious (secret) lake with a glacier on one side and a view of rugged mountains on the other. Water was cool and refreshing for a prolonged dip--and guess what--no-one there! No-one! OK, it was a bit of work to get there but what a weekend :-) BC is great if you are willing to do the work to find the little gems.

  16. I guess many of us long for the past. I grew up in Richmond in the 60's and 70's. There was a vegetable market just south of Francis on No. 4 Rd. called "The Old Barn" because, guess what, it was an old barn. Now Richmond is one big shopping mall from from bridge to tunnel. The half acre lot I grew up on had all the trees bulldozed and is covered with condos. I rent a house in Vancouver on a 30x120 lot. To me the lot is small and the rent is outrageous. I told neighbours my rent was $2,000/month and they were astonished I was getting "such a good deal". Now they want to put laneway housing on the 30x120 lots and allow 205 sq. ft. suites within suites. One day I hope to leave. My job and extended family aren't transportable so that is a dream for the future. Save me a spot on that lake Panda - Markoz

  17. Panda:

    Pavilion lake?

    It's a nice place. Sorry if I let the secret out.