Sunday, May 11, 2008

Vancouver - New Centre of the Universe ?

A Sunday read of The Province newspaper at Starbucks this morning prompted the following thoughts...

Priced Out - an article related to home prices in Vancouver presents one case for massive growth that will come soon to the south Fraser and why we will need to get our light rail projects going now, before it it too late.

The article has several quotes from a Langley resident. Among some of his statements is this one:

"And the reason I live here is not for Langley. If I'm going to live in Langley, I could live in Lloydminster, (Alta.). Or I could move to Nanaimo. But I live here to be close to Vancouver. I want to live close to Vancouver because I love Vancouver. We all love Vancouver. That's the one thing that brings us all together."

Now as someone that lived in downtown Vancouver for several years and walked the seawall every day I could, I think Vancouver is a great city. But to say that we all live where we live to be near Vancouver is a bit much. I have come to love Langley and the people here. I moved to Vancouver after living in several international cities, and generally speaking I found people in Vancouver to be cold and lacking community spirit. While I'm able to network and make friends anywhere, I've gotta say that my face showed one of the few smiles on the seawall most mornings! I now travel to Vancouver about once every three months or so if I can help it. I'd rather travel in the south Fraser and I find everything that I need out here. I'm fortunate to also be self-employed and not having to commute.

I found another quote in the same article that doesn't amaze me, but is rather sad. SFOT has mentioned many times the concept of building communities around people and not roads. Here is the reality of why we need to do that:

Neil Sutherland, a 77-year-old retired UBC professor, is convinced it has reduced the sense of community on campus. He recalls after-work hockey games with colleagues and dinners at the now-defunct faculty club, which no longer take place. "People wonder why the faculty club failed. Well, it's because nobody lives out here any more," he says.

The experts are now starting to realize and examine what impact this building of communities around roads is having on people and is spoke about in this news piece.

Until now, there has been little research on the social consequences of skyrocketing house prices in B.C., although that is beginning to change.

One UBC study is looking at the link between people's professions and where they live in Greater Vancouver. Another, by UBC sociology Prof. Nathaneal Lauster, is studying the links between Vancouver real-estate prices and people's willingness to start families.

Housing has always been an emotional subject because so many believe where they live is a part of their identity.

"It's not just the place where you live, it's a symbol of who you are," says Lauster. "And that sort of meaning is important. It's something that tends to be overlooked by real-estate economists and people who just think this is consumption of living space.

Elsewhere in the same newspaper were these gems on transportation-related matters:

finally clarifies for us that fact that people have not been tasered by transit police for fare evasion. Rather they were tasered for resisting arrest or being belligerent after it was learned that there was a warrant out for their arrest for serious charges. This makes good sense to us at SFOT. If these are the facts of the case, then TransLink Police acted appropriately to taser these suspects!

You can read more of this Letter to the Editor. But read the article on Priced Out and then you can judge whether there is any logic in this musing. I have absolutely no sympathy for arrogance. The letter writer says...

I have absolutely no sympathy for people who choose to live in the Fraser Valley and commute such ridiculous distances. No one has forced these people to live such distances from their work.

This Abbotsford resident and commuter pleads the case for light rail.

Any money redirected to transit should go to a light-rail system out to the Fraser Valley, instead of expanding in Coquitlam, Surrey and to UBC.

Bravo Mr. Dunlop!

Have a great Mother's Day!


Unknown said...

I love Vancouver and definitely refuse to be too far away from it -- it and my family, who are in the general vicinity. I never went downtown much until I started post-secondary out there and now I work downtown. For as long as I work for somebody else, I have no choice but to work in Vancouver City, and I like that to some extend. My industry just does not exist in other municipalities. The commute sucks and I don't ask for sympathy, but the arrogant person who has none clearly doesn't understand the issues. There's one thing to want a big house in the 'burbs, but there's another thing to only be able to afford something in the 'burbs -- even a townhouse or an apartment. I'm out here partly because it's a compromise between me (--> Vancouver) and my boyfriend (--> Abbotsford), and he can't just work or live anywhere either. I'm a sitting duck waiting for prices to fall enough to afford just a townhouse. I'll give Surrey Central and Langley City the adoration I give Vancouver when it catches up in a cultural and walkable capacity. Until then, Vancouver is... a good day out.

Joe Zaccaria said...

Right on Erika! People in Vancouver need to realize that for many young people, suburbia represents affordable housing and the possibility to own some real estate and not be a tenant forever.

We also have the same right to efficient and safe transit options that our Vancouver neighbours have, including light rail, street cars, buses that connect the system, etc. We also have a right to the same complete roads that have dedicated lanes for walkers, cyclers, rail and automobiles.