From: Gregor Robertson
CC: Geoff Meggs
To: All Citizens of Vancouver
BCC: Bob Rennie
RE: I Blame You
By now, most of you have probably seen that we didn’t make the Economist Intelligence Unit’s list of the Top 10 Most Livable Cities in the World.
I realize that right now most of you are probably blaming yourselves for this international slap in the face. I know I am. Blaming you, I mean.
And it’s true; the EIU doesn’t always get it right. Remember the Malahat?
As long as the province continues to resist our plan to install bike lanes on the Malahat from Goldstream to Mill Bay, it’ll be up to us to turn this around.
And yes, the Economist people changed the criteria this year, which means we weren’t even in the running. Making the list this year would have been like getting a job we didn’t apply for.
But that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook, Vancouver.
Frankly, I’m embarrassed, and if you have one gram of civic pride in you, you’ll be embarrassed, too.
Consider this: Toronto made the list. Again.
Yes, they slipped from fourth place to eighth because of urban sprawl, a lack of cultural assets, and Rob Ford, but they’re still in the game. (Okay, the Economist didn’t specifically mention Mr. Ford but I’m thinking there’s no way he went into the “plus” column.)
So, what I need each and every one of you to do is think about how you can make your city more livable.
Let’s start with traffic.
I want you to wake up every day and ask yourselves, “Do I really need to go to work today?” If the answer is “maybe,” then stay home or work out of your Starbucks. It would go a long way to reducing congestion.
If you do have to go to work, ask yourself, “Can I walk, ride my bike, or take transit?”
Remember, just about any destination is within walking distance if you leave early enough.
And stop whining about the bike lanes. A lot of you could use a bike ride by the looks of you. Look at me. That’s all bike, baby.
Next up, density.
The Economist Intelligence Unit favours “compact cities.”
I’m totally into them as well. Remember, Toronto lost points for sprawl.
So do me a favour: When a developer hands in an application for a 77-storey tower in the middle of your single-family residential neighbourhood, be cool. Just roll with it. Don’t come to council and give us a hard time and make us work late and stuff.
Third, we keep getting dinged on the “cost of housing” thing.
Try this: If you’re going to sell your house, instead of getting all greedy, try asking yourself: “How much do I really need?”
Think about how that might improve the city’s reputation for affordability. And think of how selfless Vancouverites would all look if we pop our own bubble, instead of letting reality do it for us.
Four: Go to a Farmer’s Market and pretend you like it. Sustainability is big deal to these Economist guys and those weekend markets are livability ratings gold.
I’ve seen you all there, trying to do the right thing, trading your wooden coins for two tomatoes or a half dozen tiny fingerling potatoes or a thin bunch of Swiss chard, which no one actually likes. I’ve asked Adriane Carr to blog a list of recipes that should be up soon.
Five: Stop committing crimes. That hockey riot was a total downer, the gang shootings, the purse-snatchings, the break and enters and auto theft – all of that stuff makes us look not just bad but mean. Don’t be mean. And stop it with all the crack and heroin and ecstasy and stuff. Yes, having a supervised injection site makes us look cool, but not needing one is way cooler. And being drunk in public is just gross. Stop that, too.
Six: If you are homeless, find a home. Nothing makes those Economist guys more judgy than people on the street.
These are all simple changes that each and every one of us could embrace tomorrow if we so choose.
Let’s do it together, beginning with you.