Monday, 5 September 2011

Old West Vancouver Neighbourhood Infused with New World Culture

     Neighbourhoods in and around Vancouver’s lower mainland don’t look the same as they used to 10 years ago, not to mention 50 years ago.
     “Life was good back then, [and] it moved at a slower pace and was much more family orientated.” says Mary Sinclair giving us a different name so as to remain anonymous, and like a lady she did not disclose her age.
     Sinclair has lived in West Vancouver for nearly 50 years. She came with her family from Alberta and recalls the town as half the size of what it is now.
     “The whole family attended special events,” she says. “Children could run around all day and parents didn’t worry unless the kids were late for dinner.”
     She remembers often seeing and speaking with local politicians at the park or walking down the street and discussing the city’s issues. She laments that things just aren’t the same anymore.
     “Parking is ridiculous with all the cars on the road,” says Sinclair. “Condominiums are scattered everywhere and they’re even building them higher on the mountain. Park Royal shopping centre was half the size it is now; we had small, family-owned stores and the only large restaurant in town was White Spot.”
     Sinclair notes that one of the most noticeable differences in the city is the people. She says residents walking down the street showcase nationalities that are quite diverse including languages and clothing. She says there are unique stores and restaurants that sell delicacies from around the world and the arts and entertainment centres highlight concerts of traditional dance and music.
     A 2010 Community Survey reveals that almost 90% of West Vancouverites rated their overall quality of life in the district as very good, with those 35 and older being particularly satisfied.
     Positive sentiments also showed that 77% of the residents thought the district was a very good place to raise a family and 69% thought it would be a great place to retire.
     An increase in ratings from a 2004 survey showed that residents noted an improvement in arts and culture facilities as well as youth services, community land use planning and environmental protection. The results unfortunately, do not identify the years of residency of the West Vancouver residents when they completed the survey.
     Andrew Potter author of The Authenticity Hoax, writes in his book that “a healthy culture is like a healthy person: it is constantly changing, growing, and evolving, yet something persists through these changes, a ballast that keeps it upright and recognizable no matter how much it is buffeted by the transformative winds of trade.”
     He challenges readers to “think of a culture as something akin to a society's immune system – it works best when it is exposed to as many foreign bodies as possible. Like kids raised in too-clean environments, cultures that are isolated from the world are beautiful but extremely fragile.”
     In comparison to other major cities in Canada, Vancouver and West Vancouver plus the rest of the lower mainland is relatively young. It’s no surprise that they are constantly changing their culture to adapt to new citizens. So Sinclair is reflectively receptive of the future.
     “Nothing stays the same,” she says. “It’s progress.”

This post originally appeared in The Source, September 6, 2011  ©  Copyright (c) The Source 

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