Category: vancouver

What does the Sun Run say about Vancouver?

Vancouver Sun Run
The start of the Sun Run

Last Sunday we took part in the Vancouver Sun Run. This is the second year we have done it and this time was more enjoyable than last year.

Being fitter I had time to take in the sights and sounds of the run that much more and it got me thinking about what this event tells you about life in Vancouver.

It is probably no surprise that this is a well attended event. This year there were over 48,000 participants confirming Vancouver’s reputation for supporting an active life style.

The course takes you around downtown Vancouver, skirting the edge of Stanley Park, along English Bay, across the Burrard bridge and back over the Cambie bridge. This route shows off Vancouver pretty well. In fact I overheard another runner saying she’d not thought Vancouver would be so beautiful. (I don’t know where she was from).

The Sun Run would not work without the volunteers. They help with handing out race packs, gear check, the water stations that line the route, the after run party in BC Place and marshalling the thousands of runners and walkers. What I found interesting that I heard several runners thanking the volunteers, or even cheering them, as they went by. That was nice to see.

Perhaps one of the best things about doing the run is being encouraged by the people watching. All along the route there were people watching, cheering and shouting encouragement. I particularly liked a little girl of about 7 or 8 who was holding her hand out for “high five’s” and telling us we were awesome! It certainly helped in the last kilometre or two, when energy is flagging.

The after party wrap up was in BC Place Stadium. It was my first time inside with its new roof. It was a great venue and luckily our running clinic had arranged to meet under the N – so we were all able to catch up and find out how we’d all done. There’s a lot of people looking tired but really happy. And they’re already talking about next year!

Multiculturalism in our communities

Whatever your home country you are welcome in Canada
People from all over the world now call Canada home

Canada became a multicultural society officially in 1971. Being a land mostly of immigrants, arguably we were multicultural from the start. Nevertheless this value is now built into our society and our legislation supports it.

Multiculturalism means that we recognize all people as equal and encourage them to keep their ethnic heritage alive.

I think that most people would say that multiculturalism has been a pretty good policy for Canada. Apart from French Canadians, we’ve seen very little unrest between people of different origins. Immigrant communities have been integrating into the general population without major incident for decades.

My local paper, the Vancouver Sun, has been looking at the ethnic make up of Vancouver. It is an interesting read if you’re not familiar with the ethnic make up of this diverse city.

It is also slightly disturbing in that it talks about a trend for ethnic groups to gather in certain neighbourhoods. This trend might mean that immigrants tend not to integrate into the wider Canadian society. I understand that there is safety in staying with your own people, keeping your language and customs alive.

The downside is that this groups then tend to be inward looking and suspicious of others. And that goes both ways of course.

As an immigrant myself I wanted to integrate into Canadian society. I wanted to have friends who were Canadian. I didn’t care about their ethnic origin. I admit it is good to meet up with fellow Brits from time to time because we can chat about the UK and share our British sense of humour. (In my biased opinion there’s nothing quite like it).

But I would not like to be living in a neighbourhood exclusively made up of ex-pat Brits.

Vancouver, and other major Canadian cities, will continue to attract many immigrants from all parts of the world. I hope that they will also continue to integrate with those immigrants who’ve already arrived. We welcome them on that basis.

How green is my city?

Everyone drives big cars
Seriously, this is a small car?

Canada has a reputation for being green – as in eco friendly. The recent survey by Siemens certainly agrees as Vancouver came in as the greenest city in Canada and the number 2 in North America, after San Francisco.

Vancouver was in the top 10 on all 9 measures, and came in number one for CO2 emissions per capita. Other Canadian cities did fairly well with Toronto at 9, Ottawa 12, Calgary 14 and Montreal 19 out of the 27 cities in the survey.

Vancouver is aiming to be the greenest city in the world by 2020. Is that likely?

Despite the reputation, I think there’s quite a hill to climb. One of the biggest issues is transit. It’s going to take a lot to get Canadians out of their trucks, SUV’s and vans. If you look at the traffic we have now there are Ford Behemoths, GMC Giganticas, Chevy Disturbans and the like choking up the roads, often with a single occupant.

It is understandable when the public transit system is straining to cope. Building bike lanes is not going to help for most people’s commutes.

The challenge is to fund and develop a public transit infrastructure with a relatively small population base to supply the money. No one wants to pay for these initiatives.

There’s no easy solution but at least Vancouver has made a start and is already better placed than many other north American cities.

What do you think?

The Economist takes a wrong turn on the highway

Are trucks to blame for our No 3 spot?

Vancouverites are not happy that their city has lost the top spot in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s most liveable cities index. We have been overtaken by both Vienna(#2) and Melbourne(#1). It is small consolation that the downgrade was by less than one percentage point.

The factor that seems to have been the cause is traffic congestion. We will freely admit that is one of our faults. Travel across any of the bridges in the Lower Mainland can be a stop-go process, especially if there is any kind of problem (a stalled car being the most common). What we found astounding was that the Economist cited congestion on the Malahat Highway. A quick peek at the map will tell you that this is actually on Vancouver Island and not a major concern for Vancouver drivers.

So long story short, we’re really still Number One – it was just a stupid mistake by the Economist. Right?

Crossing over to the Island

BC ferry links the mainland to Vancouver Island
BC ferries link Vancouver Island and the mainland

Vancouver Island is typically called The Island by people here in B.C. We have a lot of islands but Vancouver Island is the big one. In fact it is about the size of England.

I have just been using the ferries as I am writing this in Victoria. We are here for some business and for my cousins’ party to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary!

We came over on the ferry from Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver. This takes about an hour and forty minutes to get you to Nanaimo.

This was both a business and pleasure trip for us and looking around at the passengers I’d say that most look liked they were there for pleasure. They were dressed for the outdoors, with hiking boots or sandals, t-shirts or fleeces (on the decks the ferries can often be cold and breezy).

There were others who were probably on business. Heads buried in their laptops or going over papers. They wore more business attire, though we are not a dressy people here, so there were no suits that I saw.

I guess we have mixed feelings about the ferries. That stretch of water is a nuisance. It’d be nice to be able drive the whole way. And relying on BC Ferries, which has a monopoly, is annoying.

On the other hand, there is definitely something relaxing about the sea voyage. Even if you are on a business trip, you can relax a bit, enjoy some spectacular scenery and chat with people you meet. The time goes quickly enough and you’re probably less stressed when you arrive.

For those who really are in a hurry there are the air services linking the Mainland and the Island. These can be a great way to travel as the views are spectacular. Flying with Harbour Air, for instance, will take you from harbour to harbour in 35 minutes. And enjoying the views is also going to help you relax before your ever so important meeting!

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