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Vancouver: A (sort of) Love Story

By Rachel McDonnell

Approximately three years ago Vancouver lost its top spot as the world’s most liveable city. Two years ago the Economist Intelligence Unit released a special report kicking Vancouver out of the top ten most liveable cities in the world. The latest headlines scream that Vancouver traffic congestion is the second worst in North America and reports in local papers continually highlight Vancouver as one of the worst cities in the world for a sense of community.

As an added bonus no one can afford to live here.

It’s enough to cause a riot. Oh wait that happened also. And if you believe what many reported it was in no small part because the youth of today have spent their lives believing they are entitled to good jobs, a house they own at a reasonable age, and a lifestyle that at least parallels, if not vastly exceeds that of their parents. They were mad about all of this slipping away in Vancouver and it took a massive sporting experience that went horribly awry to bubble tension to the surface then boil over.

It could be that. Or it could be that some young people (mostly), and probably really good people (mostly), drank too much, got too caught up in a mob mentality, and just plain lost common sense when faced with complete civil disorder.

The thing is Vancouver is no picnic. It happens to be stunningly beautiful and a natural paradise if you know the right places to look but I’m actually pretty glad the propaganda that has surrounded Vancouver for years as the city where you can ski in the morning and sail in the afternoon is coming to a halt. Maybe we can get down to the nitty gritty of the true nature of our city now the fog has lifted and our rose coloured glasses ripped off.

Here’s the truth: I live on the North Shore of Vancouver and I hike and bike and swim and have done those things consecutively in a day but mostly I just work, commute, buy groceries, do laundry, take care of my baby, walk my dog, and try to grab a long weekend away if I can here and there. I don’t see my friends as much as I’d like. I pretty much never eat out. Being self-employed with my own practice as a Registered Massage Therapist I worry about how I’m going to find hours in the day and money in the bank now that I have an eighteen-month old baby to look after. Down time is not a real option. I still love it here so much.

I’ve lived in downtown Vancouver, East Vancouver, Strathcona, Kitsilano, West Vancouver and North Vancouver. I’ve lived in mouse infested basement apartments, and rented unrealistically priced one-bedroom apartments well into my late thirties all in the name of staying in Vancouver. I’ve always loved it here that much. At the age of 40 I had my very first mortgage plus about five months still left on a student loan.

My relationship status with Vancouver may as well read: It’s complicated.

Even so I look out my window and I see the forest. I know the trails are waiting for me…calling me. I was on the brink of post- partum depression after the birth of my baby and walking saved me. Just walking up on the mountain. One foot in front of the other with my sleeping baby on my chest. Familiar ground for both of us.

My son probably thinks he was born in a tree.

If you want a neat and tidy package of a life all sewn up by the time you are 25 (or 30… or 40), Vancouver may not be for you. Maybe this city is too overrated, too wet, too unfriendly, too expensive. The problem is that when cynicism gets confused with realism, and entitlement takes the place of responsibility, a lot more gets lost than just a city’s good reputation.

Besides a little rain just means all of our cups are not just half full but damn near overflowing.

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