With Father’s Day this weekend, I’ve handed the column over to my long-deceased dad for his thoughts on the state of our city:
Why does everything in this city have to change all the time? Why can’t things just stay the same?
Just look at Oakridge. It’s a perfectly good shopping centre. You know, a good food court with the noodles and such, though I don’t care much for those. But some people do and that’s just fine. There’s lots of free parking. It’s even got a carpeted area – you know, a kind of pit for the young ones to play in. But now the Zellers is gone, and they want to build a bunch of high-rise towers in the parking lot. And why? Because it’s near a transit line? Why can’t Oakridge just stay the same?
Same goes for the East End. You know, around Commercial Drive. Perfectly good neighbourhood right now. Still a few Italians left. There’s a Safeway right there with parking spaces big enough to fit a sedan. So what are they doing? They’re talking about some kind of “pedestrian plaza” and some more great big apartment buildings. Why? Because there are a couple of rapid transit lines there? Because it’s some kind of “transit hub” they say. I don’t get it. Why can’t they just leave it alone? It’s perfectly good the way it is.
And everywhere they’re trying to cram more people in. Cambie Street and Marine Drive and along Hastings there. Why are they fiddling with East Hastings? So they can build some more apartments for people to live in? Maybe some of their so-called “affordable housing” too? Whatever that is. It’s nice and open the way it is. Where the Canadian Tire used to be. Why did that have to go? Park anywhere you like down there now I tell you.
Down by the Fraser River, you seen that? More buildings with apartments for families? What’s that about? Do they have to do it right there? It was better before all of that.
And UBC? Holy lightning! You been out that way lately? It looks like Whistler up there in some parts I tell you. Like a whole new city. All kinds of places to eat and shop and things like banks and places to get a haircut and such. That yogurt place where you can put whatever you like on top? You know, Smarties and whatnot. Never thought I’d see that. And of course all kinds of new apartment buildings too. Tall ones and smaller ones. Who asked for that? I don’t remember voting for that. I don’t like it. It’s all different now.
And the roads? Don’t get me going about the roads. So they’re going to tear down the viaducts because they want to do something with land underneath? They’re doing what? You have to give your head a shake. I like the viaducts. When I get out in the car and drive across those things I feel like I live in an honest-to-goodness city. You know, a proper city. Why in God’s name tear them down? They’re doing their job and they work perfectly well.
And all the bike lanes? That new one down on Comox Street in the West End? Crazy, that.
I tell you, cars going every which way and the roundabouts. And bikes crossing the streets everywhere?
And down there on Union Street? Where are you supposed to park? And all for what? For a few bikes? You can’t be serious.
But that’s just the way it is now. Everything keeps changing. They have to make it bigger and better and make more of it. Everything costs more and nobody wants to wait for nothing.
You look around and you tell me what’s the matter with this place right now? Nothing, right? Perfectly good.
Except maybe for that Downtown Eastside. Boy, that place is still a mess. You know, the one thing you want them to change and it just stays the same with all of the drugs and everything. And then when somebody tries to make it better – you know, clean it up open up a little cafe or pub or something, they’re out there with the signs and the bullhorns. Don’t ask me what that’s about, I have no idea.
At least the Army & Navy’s still there, so that’s good.
Not easy to park there, though.
It’s all changing I tell you.
Okay, gotta go.
Stephen Quinn is the host of On the Coast on CBC Radio One, 690 AM and 88.1 FM in Vancouver. @cbcstephenquinn