Friday, December 5, 2008

Vancouver dreamin'

Vancouver used to always be followed by "B.C." You know - British Columbia. It was because of the other Vancouver, in the state of Washington. I have noticed that the BC suffix has now been dropped. B.C. now designates a whole other subject, like British California or Bring Cash. The city has achieved standalone status.

Vancouver has grown up. She is young(c.1880s) by world standards but the world has begun to take notice. For a longtime, she was a provincial place, a rather rough town that grew into Terminal City. Terminal in the sense of the end of the road(as viewed from back East), as in a major rail, freight and port facility. Vancouver's reputation has suffered the envy of some other cities that have more history but less geography. For too long, Vancouver was all about setting - a city that leaned against a wall of mountains as she splashed her feet in the vast, mild Pacific. A surreal green rainforest with mist dripping from every limb. A westcoast experience derided as the Wet Coast. It was only with Expo'86, that the world was compelled to note the chutzpah of a gawky teenage city bold enough to invite everyone to come and see.

And they have come and seen. And many have bought a piece of paradise, a room with a view. Beauty, beauty everywhere. For some, that beauty has been reason enough to lay back and roll another one. For others, it has been a magnet that uprooted and drew them from half a world away. The world's languages fill the streets. Smart young people in sandals design the computer games that the world will play next year. They social network avidly, climb a mountain competitively and are as apt to take the bike to work as the BMW. Their world is plugged in, 24 hours and global.

Vancouver is now as fresh and dewy as this year’s Hollywood starlet. The city has great bones - the Coast Mountains soar over a glassy new skyline. The makeup is minimal and immaculate - the Pacific Ocean washes miles of chilled but sandy beach. Most attractive - for Vancouver’s turn in the spotlight (and to the delight of visitors) – this city is a friendly tease. She has become open-minded, hip, cosmopolitan and maybe a teensy bit pretentious.

Vancouver offers both sexy and becalming lifestyles. Canadians elsewhere trade down from high-powered careers and trade up to more expensive housing, just to be here, to go play outdoors, and yes, to smell the roses. Non-Canadians have ceased comparing the city to the mountains of Zurich, the bayside zaniness of San Francisco, the Pacific ports of Hong Kong and Sydney. Vancouver is unique. She is no longer just a pretty young thing. No where else do you hear people talking endlessly about "quality of life". Ultimately, this city knows that her inner beauty will define her and that remains a work in progress, a work of maturation. In 2010, she knows that the world will see an Olympic Vancouver with panhandlers outside the ice arena, homeless outside the many fine restaurants, the poor and deranged, the rich and deluded, side by side in "lotusland". Still, the city beckons - come and see!
Youtube videos courtesy of paulngstewart

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