“Who is going to drive our buses and make art?”

Gayle Swain shared the story of her outof-the-ordinary Vancouver-born parents while sitting at a sidewalk table with four friends at Wicked Café, at Seventh and Hemlock. One of those friends was born in B.C., in Port Alberni, while two are immigrants, from Britain and the U.S.
The foursome had mixed feelings about what is happening to this fast-changing city, where relatively few have deep roots.
Even though they valued how the world’s cultures peacefully coexist in the city, they also regretted how in-migration has been a factor in the city’s fast-rising housing prices and in the way neighbourhoods are becoming “construction zones.”
When a flashy sports car interrupted their conversation by roaring down Hemlock, the friends also commented on how traffic in the city was becoming increasingly “aggressive” and “crazy.”

Justin Fung is among the Vancouver-born who are struggling with whether they should become more mobile.
Fung has a solid career in Vancouver’s high-tech industry. But he believes he could get more out of his salary if he moved to the Seattle or San Francisco areas.
Fung, his wife (also born in Vancouver) and young daughter squeeze into a small condo in Vancouver. “There’s no space to yourself.”
He believes the family could afford to live in a larger home, even a detached one, in the U.S.’s West Coast high-tech regions.
Many of Fung’s ethnic Chinese and Caucasian friends with children have already moved to the suburbs or other cities.
“But some are already coming back to Vancouver. They miss the city and there’s a long commute,” he said. “I feel frustrated at where this city is going.”
The key reason Fung’s family is trying to stay close to the west side of Vancouver is to be near his inlaws and parents, who immigrated to Canada from Hong Kong in the 1970s.
Fung attended Eric Hamber Secondary School, where he said the student population in the 1990s became 95 per cent Asian, most with roots in Hong Kong and Taiwan.
“There was a kind of cultural exchange when I was attending high school in Vancouver. But I think that’s largely missing now,” he said, adding: “There’s a general negativity” about Metro’s in-migration trends.
“I’m very pro-immigrant for the right kind of people, for those with skills who will bring innovation,” Fung said.
But, echoing the findings of UBC geographers and others, Fung regrets how the federal government has welcomed many “wealthy people who drive up housing prices and treat this as a resort town.”
When Fung visits his parents on the west side of Vancouver, he notices many of the neighbouring houses are empty. It’s leading, he said, to a “hollowing out” of the city’s culture.

Lorne Korman, a psychologist, is among the 16 per cent of Metro Vancouver’s population who have arrived from other Canadian provinces or territories. He was raised in Montreal and has worked in Toronto.
He finds Metro Vancouver’s inhabitants are “less connected” than Quebeckers and more “laidback” than Torontonians. “In Montreal, we knew all our neighbours. We’d always be having a cup of coffee or glass of wine with them,” said Korman, who came to B.C. a decade ago with his Chinese-Canadian wife.
Living in Richmond and working in Vancouver, he has found residents of the growing metropolis tend to be “friendly on the outside. But you can never quite know what’s happening underneath. They’re polite, they make eye contact, but they’re harder to get to know.”
Given the city’s high mobility rate, Korman isn’t surprised a Vancouver Foundation study discovered that “loneliness” is a leading anxiety of city residents.
Even though Metro has a reputation as a “Lotus Land” of nature lovers and yoga practitioners, Korman said he’s found it surprisingly right wing.
“The B.C. Liberals aren’t really liberals.” He thinks the predominance of right-wing politicians is due to an exaggerated individualism among the relatively transient population.
The clinical psychologist says residents have allowed B.C. politicians to cut mental-health services to the marrow, unlike in Ontario. Too many people in Metro Vancouver, he says, “have a let-them-eat-cake kind of attitude. People without a voice are being neglected.”
With house prices and rents soaring in part because of wealthy newcomers, Korman wonders about the future of community and the middle and lower classes. “Who is going to drive our buses and make art?”
He finds Metro Vancouver has a “surreal” quality. As he cycles each day to his Broadway office from Richmond, he notices how many grand-looking new houses are, despite appearances, vacant.
“Their sprinklers go on in the rain.”

– from ‘In mobile Metro Vancouver, third-generation locals are hard to find’, Douglas Todd, Vancouver Sun, May 1, 2016

21 responses to ““Who is going to drive our buses and make art?”

  1. Vancouver is unrecognizable compared to what it was in the 70s, 80s, and even 90s — and not for the better. I can’t think of a single, substantially positive change in the last fifteen years. Not one. Schools? Worse. Traffic? Crime? Homelessness? Residents’ attitudes? Cost of living? All worse.

    Sh*tty climate? No change there.

    Vancouver used to be a good, if not great, city. Sad.

    • Public transit has gotten better… That’s about it.

    • Came here in 1993, can’t say it’s been all bad. Vancouver was a sleepy little town before, now we are the crown jewel of the asia pacific. Based on David Ley’s estimates, close to 10% of this city’s residents are millionaires. This makes it easy to do business especially in the service industry. Most of the buildings you see are new which gives the city a very vibrant feeling. Food has gotten a lot more multicultural.

      I actually find this place much more liveable than when I showed up. At least for myself. You just got to know where to look to make your money.

      • “Crown jewel”? That’s debatable.

        The Canada Line is good. I’ll give it that.

      • Maybe a bit exaggerated I’ll give you that, but when your city is the per capita super car capital of North America, you know the types of people who come here. They aren’t exactly poor.

    • all worse. let make some room and move to detroit.

  2. Good thing for Expo 86 and the Olympics or we wouldn’t have the ability to easily transport lower-wage earners into the city via SkyTrain.

    Housing is a core need but them westside streets are right purdy.

  3. Better infrastructure (transit, bike paths). Better restaurants – ethnic (do people still sat that?), upscale, heath, local, contemporary. Better use of the waterfront – bike paths, rowing club, restaurants, etc. Craft breweries. Community gardens. Less provincial. Still beautiful – this morning’s moist post-rain air is an aromatic tonic.

    But for the cost of land, Vancouver is substantively better than it’s podunk former self. And renting is arguably still good value in this City. Do I miss old Vancouver sometimes? Sure, but if I want ’70’s Vancouver I can always go to Portland for the weekend.

    • Agreed on the portland comment. I was there earlier this year and it’s kind of nice to visit but I would never live there.

  4. Canada’s government has trouble detecting citizenship fraud – watchdog

  5. This Canadian pair of wife-husband, who also possess Hong Kong (SAR) passports, first came to the media limelight after the arrest and prosecution of the ex-Rail Minister. Good news is the latter’s “death sentence with reprieve” has been automatically reduced to life imprisonment.

    Deng Xiaoping’s niece, Li Xiaobing and her husband Wallace Yu Yiping are named in the Panama Papers linked to three bvi companies – Tibet 5100 Water Resources Holdings Ltd (Tibet Water Resources Ltd), Water Enterprises Ltd, and Galaxia Space Management Ltd.

    • Not sure what’s all the fuss about.
      But if your mugshots or that your uncle’s appeared on print … fzzzz

  6. bus drivers make more than $22 an hour plus benefit, they are fine. art, don’t really care. why do they still have bachelor of art prog in U? it’s really a waste of resources.

  7. rod_jonsson_pmd

    no going back. i liked it more the way it way, though of course, i’m just an occasional visitor. there is nostalgia but that isn’t why. like many other places, the city is bifurcating. used to be most people were in the middle and that’s what made it work. now they’re getting squeezed out. congrats to the winners who are getting some out of all this. but, we haven’t seen the really ugly part of the cycle yet. you may change your mind about it afterwards.

  8. pretty sure vancouver had beer, food, gardens, rowing clubs and
    (aromatic rain) in 1993 too

    it also had better jobs, better people, and a normal cost of living similar to rest of North America

  9. Monster homes stir emotions in Port Moody

  10. Vancouver dumps its freeway plan for a more beautiful future

    “In the 1960s, Vancouver’s historic downtown was at risk of being razed for modern road projects – only for an extraordinary protest movement to turn the tide, helping transform it into one of North America’s most ‘liveable’ cities”

    “Vancouver’s proposed freeway would have separated the city, shown here in 1971, from its harbour waterfront.”

    • “The average price for a detached house now exceeds C$1.4m (£750,000), while household incomes have remained steady at around £40,000. This has precipitated an affordability crisis, with would-be homeowners moving further and further out of the city in search of housing.

      “Let’s be clear, [the investors driving up real estate prices] are a tiny segment of the Chinese people who immigrate to the city; 99% face the same affordability issues as everyone else. It’s a class issue,” Bing Thom says.

      He doesn’t see an end to the trend anytime soon. “This is the reality of unchecked globalisation. Vancouver is a small city and the scale of change is the same as New York or London, so it affects us much more. It’s inevitable that people are going to start asking themselves questions,” he says.”

  11. blammo a member of the royal vancouver yacht club

    they also had that in 1985 too…aromatic cold rain and all

    vancouver is more podunk village now than 30 years ago

  12. vancouver wishes it was on par with Cleveland…..no NBA ,NFL or MLB in lamecouver the city of glass but no attractions

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