Pat and I flew into Vancouver Canada for a short road trip. I forgot how unwelcoming the city can be…starting with the soviet era airport. I guess we’ve been spoiled by the stellar airport services we’ve received elsewhere in the world to have expected the same from the Canadians. The distant gates for international flights from baggage claim and not having carts available for passengers is perhaps an oversight…but no car rental kiosks in the building?
Once through the gauntlet of overzealous agents we found ourselves slogging a hundred yards through the pounding rain down wet and unlit and uncovered gravel walkways…without the benefit of any signage whatsoever…to find the car rental counters in a dark basement underneath a long term car park. It made us think we were being targeted as ‘bad people’ for not having first located public transit. I say this because Vancouver is a violently anti-automobile city…..in spite of the perpetual inclemency and incredibly poor public infrastructure. I thought of how vulnerable and scary this first introductory experience might be for a single woman new to the city.
Is it this first introduction that has people voting down Vancouver in newspaper polls as the unfriendliest, unwelcoming and loneliest city on earth…a veritable trifecta of reasons people don’t come back? Vancouver bills itself as ‘the greatest place on earth’….wasn’t that line coined by a circus impresario whose entire shtick was to create illusions….is there some cosmic metaphor on the zeitgeist of Vancouverites being played for fools by the politically correct hucksters that have run this place badly for too long?
The weather has to have an effect overall….it’s crappy…there is no more honest way to describe it….prospective visitors have to know. 10 months of the year the skies are overcast and the rain constant. A recent government pronouncement stated that mental illness is spiking in Vancouver…their excuse…” due to the lack of sunshine and immigration”. How they came up with that bizarre assessment I don’t know…you’ll have to ask them…I only read the article published in a local newspaper.
I would add my own observation. The city of Vancouver lacks any cultural expression, there are no museums, no art galleries, there is no cafe culture, no cool neighborhoods to hang out in, the style culture of poverty-chic is to dress down and look as miserable as possible while drinking to excess at an Army Navy legion hall among the fading memories of a greater generation. The cost of living is astronomical, people are generally working poor and deeply in debt due to the highest and most unaffordable real estate prices and high rents against a backdrop of the the lowest incomes in the western world. Vancouver’s cultural nightlight is the drunken bloody brawls orchestrated by a cynical and brutal police force on Granville Street in the two blocks of booze tinged neon called ‘the entertainment district’.
The once vaunted film business has died and moved to Toronto leaving thousands of faux hipster malcontents without a future due to the lack of mobility in Canadian culture generally. People feel entitled to be supported in one place for a lifetime without taking personal responsibility for the consequences of their inaction. The video game trade has left for Montreal and London hollowing out the tech space to an echo of what once was twenty years ago, there is no art scene, dance, music, club or theater scene. Don’t think about coming to Vancouver and finding a blues or jazz club.
You are not welcome to hang out in a coffee shop and surf the net….they will harass you out the door for being a ‘laptop hobo’ taking up space without disgorging a constant stream of revenue. I know the property taxes in Vancouver are egregious but the culture of kicking people out of a coffee shop for surfing is disingenuous…..don’t you think? I think some of these little discussed factors may be contributing to the general reasons why people are so miserable ( according to the polls) here, while the financially driven promoters of Vancouver’s tourism trade untruthfully exclaim the city as ‘livable’….how sad.
The disparities between rich and poor are wide and ugly…. leading to the less fortunate developing a nasty covetous streak that vents hatred on any showing of personal success. Vancouver has a minor elite of highly paid civil servants whose obvious luxury and decadent display serves to push the average workers face in the mud. It is the civil service who enjoys a high position of class affluence and wage disparity over the citizen in Vancouver and not any industry or business culture in the city. Did you know that the fastest growing segment of food bank clients are working families?
There isn’t a single global head office located in Vancouver to provide any semblance of internationalism, flair or balance. Has anyone not heard of Vancouver’s ‘Downtown East Side’ where miles of filthy blood stained blocks of drug addicted derelicts , the huge population of homeless and assorted transient poor as well as the brutal regime of the streets who ply their trade in misery of every kind in the worlds largest open drug , prostitution and stolen goods market. Don’t go there…not even to get a titillating look…it is violent, very dangerous and you won’t see a single policeman….ever.
Vancouver bills itself as a green city concerned about environmental causes..but that is also a chimera…it is a sad fact that the city of Vancouver pumps million of liters of raw sewage and untreated toxic hospital waste in the ‘pristine’ waters of Vancouver Harbour and English Bay …every day! There are signs along the water front warning people of the fecal count on the beaches after the effluent is washed up on the sand…but these signs are very small….indeed. Walk along the famous seawall and you’ll literally step over the massive pipes leading into the water without knowing what they contain….yuchhhh!
Cities like Singapore did a fantastic job of developing their waterfront area’s into gleaming livable spots where restaurants and businesses are mixed with residential development. The evenings on Singapore’s Esplanade and Clark Quay are vibrant and pleasant. Vancouver’s waterfront seawalls at night are a dark, lonely and scary place of sordid sexual assignations and to be avoided at all costs for your personal safety. Ladies…..don’t walk alone in ‘famous’ Stanley Park…day or night…there has been a long history of violent predatory assaults.
I’m lucky I get to leave next week…..I fully understand why young people go into full blown mindless riot mode every once in a while and start looting smashing and burning police cars for no apparent reason….there is a reason of course….the politico’s don’t want to discuss it……the booze, drugs, loneliness, lack of cultural expression, covetous materialism of Vancouver would drive me crazy too.