“I grew up in the West End, and, while it has always been a transitional neighbourhood, it’s sad to see it the way it is right now.”

Ricky in the comment section of ‘Vancouver’s Downtown Chases out Kids’, The Tyee, 2 Mar 2011“I grew up in the West End, and, while it has always been a transitional neighborhood, it’s sad to see it the way it is right now. The two remaining pillars of culture there are the gay community and a surprisingly lasting Korean community, both of which are insular and provide no children. The working class is gone, off to Surrey or elsewhere, and unlike previous generations, no new round of city-dwelling working class immigrants are there to take their place, just dumb yuppies willing to pay the outrageous rents.
I remember a few years ago sitting at the new Starbucks at Denman and Davie when some neighborhood kids walked by on the way to the beach, making some noise as teenagers do. The yuppie harpies with their Ontario accents at the next table commented, “Look at that. The should ban these yahoos from coming in from Surrey or wherever they’re from.”

9 responses to ““I grew up in the West End, and, while it has always been a transitional neighbourhood, it’s sad to see it the way it is right now.”

  1. “Ontario Accent”?

    Give me a break.

    • Agreed. After living in Vancouver for 13 years and Ontario for 7 years, the only difference in accent I can determine is that Ontarians like to say “Two-Four” for a case of Beer, whereas Vancouverites like to call it a “Flat”.

      Also, Ontarians know how to pronounce Etobicoke but Vancouverites don’t.

    • Agree re ‘Ontario accents’ … I couldn’t possibly tell the difference.
      All Canadese to me.

      But perhaps the ‘accents’ were design features rather than speech characteristics… as in ‘fall accents’… like maybe they were wearing ‘Blue-Jays’ caps and ‘Group of Seven’ Algonquin t-shirts ?

    • Yeah there is an “Ontario” accent. Just ask an Ontarioan from outside of Toronto to say “sandwich”.

    • Even Jean Chrétien couldn’t pronounce “Etobicoke” properly and he was the freaking PM…

      How about nobody outside Toronto knows how to pronounce the former city’s name?

  2. Dunno, but looking at my building and being out and about at lunch time it seems there are still quite a few kids around, though they are mostly younger (in my building) and do belong to Japanese parents (from what I can gather).

    How they manage to squeeze four people into these pseudo bachelors is a bit of a puzzle to me though.

  3. So, I just read the article and posted my thoughts on it there, cc’ed here “for the record” so to speak:

    The article seems to imply that the problem is with the downtown itself and a “lack of services”.

    But honestly, I think the problem is something else entirely:

    People have expectations when it comes to raising children, the house, the garden etc. You get the idea.

    The Westend has not really changed THAT much in the last 30 or so years, most of the buildings are from the 60s on onwards and from my understanding it was a pretty mixed neighbourhood for most of its existence.

    So what has changed? Maybe it’s not the city that has failed children in downtown but parents who have a very specific idea on on how their child should grow up?

    It’s somewhat like this: If you have a child these days parents are being told to be afraid of the “stranger danger” and as such the idea to keep kids inside or supervised when they are not at school is sort of a given.

    That works, somewhat, when you have a large house in the middle of nowhere where the kid can’t escape.

    But thinking back at my childhood in an apartment I can tell you that I spend VERY LITTEL time at home during the day. I went to school in the morning and after school I ran around with friends all over my city. Both my parents were working and they didn’t know where I was or what I did.

    These days though? When was the last time you saw a band of kids just marauding the neighbourhood without at least one adult trailing / organizing it?

    Of course the new condo developments with tiny apartments doesn’t help, but that’s another parent problem, as they buy an investment to be traded up later, not a home for themselves and their kids.

  4. I don’t know if there are fewer families, the schools are near full.

  5. I lived in the West End for 16 years. My husband, similarly. We had kids there and they started started school there.

    What changed for us was rents. My parents’ apartment building was renovated and rents increased by 30%; they found a good 2 bedroom at a more historical rate, but it is one of the older ones with an older owner, in an adult-only building, and they have their fingers crossed the renovation/evictions don’t come again.

    We were on a wait list for an extra room in my building, but the rent on open units jumped by 30% in one year.

    We miss the West End fiercely, but it’s harder to find the deal than it used to be. Being a family downtown is more expensive than I’d realized, anyway – our costs on almost everything except transit has dropped since moving. Childcare’s cheaper. Groceries are cheaper – maybe because we can buy (slightly bigger) packages now that we have (slightly more) storage: our per unit cost is down on almost everything, even though we’ve only gained a couple hundred square feet. In the end, we were outclassed, so we moved to Marpole and bicycle in. But even friends without kids are leaving. Unless you’re locked into one of those buildings that the owner has no seeming urge to gentrify (Kenilsworth, Holly Court), it’s a more pricey place to move through than it used to be.

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