Monday, December 14, 2009

Guide to Vancouver #1

The Olympics are coming up.¹

That's why I'm going to do this series of posts, where I'll expound on my general overview of the city I live in/around/in a suburb of: Vancouver.

Vancouver is, first and foremost, a city that seems to be always ranked near the top of this and that livability study. It's also tiny. A hamlet. 2.5 million people live here, if you include the suburbs. 600k if you count only Vancouver proper. This gives most of Vancouverites a bit of a complex. A phrase you'll hear often is 'world-class city'. Maybe too often, maybe too forced, usually coming down from some chamber of commerce or some captain of some industry. We're constantly preening and trying to make ourselves a little more important than we are. True 'world-class' cities, like a CIA operative or someone who actually enjoys Christmas cakes, never have to proclaim it. I don't think you'd ever hear someone from Paris, or London, or New York, expound about how 'world-class' their city is. I mean, here's a hint, when Hollywood is shooting a film in LA pretending that it's Vancouver, then you'll know.

If you like the outdoors, rain, and relative low crime rate, Vancouver is not too bad. If you take umbrage with ridiculously high cost of living with lower than average salaries, have a touch of SAD, or are expecting theaters and museums on the level of truly large city, Vancouver is not your destination.

It's fairly boring, fairly nice. Fine for me, fine for people who like safe, boring living. Also, actually, fine for people who like their bit of gangland warfare. We seem to have little flarings of that, every once and a while, I guess we have a booming trade in mary jane, which leads to organized crime having kerfluffles, but I suppose not enough to hurt 'livability' ratings.

The drugs thing is pretty major, in many ways, and in only some ways that I have any handle on. For instance, there are quitea few growops in and about town. And not in the run-down part of town either, in $900k houses in nice parts of town, subdivisions that feature the word 'Heights' or 'Pacific'. I think it's safe to say we have an above average number of hydroponic supply stores. And I can't believe there are that many gardeners who simply must have their hothouse tomatoes year round.

Weed, especially, is largely tolerated. So if you are at some outdoor event, say, fireworks or One of The Ten Days When It's Not Precipitating In Some Way, you'll get a whiff of that really charming 'mossy grass being burnt under a poorly supervised butane torch' smell. I'm more of a live and let live guy, really, and when it comes to things you can use to decimate brain-cells, I'd much prefer to be in a group of totally stoned patchouli chewing THC-imbibers than any number of drunks. In general.

There are really a ton of things to complain about in Vancouver, possibly more than there are to boast about. I'll hit on more of them in upcoming posts.

1 It's awash with controversy, on one side people ecstatic that we are 'on the world stage' and 'make our mark on the map'. On the other side, calls that money has been funneled from social services and money ear-marked for the most vulnerable in our society. On one side, the opinion that this'll really rake in money for the province and country. And then on the other, the realization that most corporate deals are going to companies south of the border, and that local communities are going to be in debt for this world party for a looong time.

I try and stay neutral about these things. I think they both have points. I have no doubt that the public will have a debt, and that private companies will have the lion's share of the profits. But, I mean, they are the Olympics.

Let's not dwell on that.

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