Saturday, August 23, 2008


I've had a love affair with Vancouver for ten years now, in fact, our diamond anniversary is in two months. I've traveled there seven of those years on at least fifteen different occasions, for reasons as diverse as love, work, and play. There's no city I feel quite the same bond with, something I chalk up to the distance. Yes, my heart does grow fonder.

This past trip I stayed with a friend in Kitsilano near Blenheim & Third. Lavender was wafting on the sea breeze and blackberries grew like massive weeds throughout the neighbourhood. There are several small parks around here -- the type of parks that drive me crazy in other cities because they serve solely as doggy outhouses -- but in Vancouver, they are lined with benches that look out over the ocean towards downtown to the east and West Vancouver and the mountains to the north.

It's true that the city is getting a serious facelift for the 2010 Olympics and cranes are almost as prominent on the landscape as those famous Coast Mountains. While I was chatting with friends who work in the social services sector both on the coast and in the interior, they spoke of how some service providers in the city have been giving people in the Downtown Eastside one-way tickets to the interior, in this case, Vernon, in order to 'clean-up' the city. Besides this gross Olympic-ification, the battle over Insite -- the needle exchange facility -- and the uber-gentrification of the eastside are longstanding battles that are simmering nearly out of control. The Olympics seem to have provided politicians and developers with all the right excuses to bulldoze the residents of the eastside out of existence.

Despite these extravagant transgressions, I'll no doubt be returning to Vancouver, my heart in hand.