Welcome to Vancouver: A city of crises

Isn't it time we called Vancouver what it really is?

12th and Cambie

Not to go all Jonathan Swift on you, but I have a modest proposal.

It’s time the city changed up those “Welcome to Vancouver” signs you see at various entrances into town. You know the ones — a blend of blue, green and white, held up by some designer stone work that tell you Vancouver also hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympics.

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I know many of you thought hosting the Games was a big deal. I also know someone at city hall thought it was necessary to recognize those events on the signs. But that was seven years ago. So much has happened since then.

We had a hockey riot, some snow fell and now there’s this city logo scandal.

I got thinking about a new slogan for the city after hearing and writing a word way too many times over the past seven years. I heard it again the other day. That word is “crisis.”

If I’ve got this right, we’re in an affordable housing crisis. We’re in a mental health crisis. We’re in an opioid overdose crisis. We’re in a homeless crisis. We’re in a poverty crisis. Our schools are in a funding crisis.

Politicians have said this. So have housing experts, police officers, firefighters, mental health counsellors, doctors, nurses, teachers, lawyers, drug users, homeless advocates, anti-poverty activists and school trustees. I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few people here, but you get the idea.

When you consider the number of people affected by these crises, it’s kind of overwhelming — and depressing. So then, time for a new sign:  “Welcome to Vancouver: A city of crises.”

Not exactly tourism friendly, but at least visitors would know what they’re getting into when they arrive in town. Yes, the North Shore mountains after a snowfall are beautiful, Jericho Beach on a summer day is fabulous and Stanley Park is always inspiring.

But take away those features and others like it, and what have we got?

I’m still deciding as I write this sentence whether that’s a rhetorical question, or one that needs an answer. Probably, an answer. So here we go…

What we’ve got, according to Mayor Gregor Robertson, Premier Christy Clark and their ilk, is the strongest economy in the country, with Metro Vancouver the main economic engine creating that wealth. Growth, they also say, is good for the region and they welcome it. More, more, more.

And those good times are only going to get better because another one million people over the next 23 years will be moving to the region, according to Metro Vancouver’s 2040 plan, which estimates a whopping 500,000 jobs will be created once everyone settles in.

Real estate prices, I’m confident, will have dropped substantially by then. Your salary will undoubtedly get a boost, if it hasn’t already. Traffic congestion will ease. Doves will replace seagulls. And all those crises? Gone, baby, gone.

For now, Vancouverites should embrace these crises, be proud of what they represent and tell the world by putting it in big bold letters on a sign. We’re a city of crises, people. It’s the new normal and actually has been for years.

But don’t you dare ask how we got here.

Because some smart ass might conclude the real crisis is in the past and present leadership of this city, province and country. And who needs more finger-wagging from politicians accusing this level of government or that level of government for being asleep at the switch when they've all been napping in the same room.

Besides, the sun is shining, there are mountains to ski, beaches to visit, parks to stroll.

mhowell@vancourier.com

@Howellings

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