Take That Vancouver, Love the Suburbs

As a suburbanite who’s only managed to snaggle four years of living in Vancouver proper out of my 22 total years of living in the Metro Vancouver region, I rather resent Vancouverites whining about how far or how boring Port Moody, Surrey or even Burnaby are. I don’t live in the boonies, you know, I’m only 20 minutes by Skytrain from downtown, dammit! And the snickering when I remind people that Port Moody is the City of the Arts or that Surrey is a cultural capital…enough already!

Though I don’t know if agree with Global BC’s chief political reporter Keith Baldrey on other issues, I do agree that Vancouver is not quite the primadonna it used to be anymore. Just like no one is paying any more attention to Paris Hilton, Baldrey pointed out in last week’s Record* editorial (links to article not available):

The fact is the population explosion to the east and to the south of the city has shifted the focus away from Vancouver, with the result that communities such as Surrey, Langley and Richmond are increasingly much more dominant in the political arena.

The CUPE strike in Vancouver was irrelevant to the vast majority of Lower Mainland residents. The dispute did not receive intense media coverage, as even Vancouver-based news outlets are increasingly cognizant of the fact that most of their audience lives outside their city borders.


While I don’t think that the suburbs get quite that much attention in the media just yet (unless it’s negative attention), it’s good to see that the suburbs are becoming more important to merit an editorial telling Vancouver what’s what.

Sure, the suburbs definitely need a better transit system – anyone who snarks out on drivers hasn’t walked (or taken the bus) a mile in their shoes. Three hours to get from Surrey to Burnaby – if you’re not sleeping in a ditch beside the Skytrain station – is ridiculous.

And admittedly, the suburbs need to lose their SUV-soccer-mom-white-bread-and-nothing-but-television culture in order to wrest some of the cosmopolitan rep from Vancouver. But there’s plenty to be wowed about.

Culturally, the suburbs have excellent restaurants, fantastic libraries (the Burnaby library system, for example, is arguably better than the VPL in terms of quantity, especially if you take the Central Branch out of the equation), and some up-and-coming museums with great public programs (I won’t toot my horn, but check out the Delta Museum’s Fraser River Delta
Historical Cruises
next June now that you’ve missed the Tri-City’s West Coast Chocolate Festival). With increased interest from their constituents, cultural organizations can improve their services to a Vancouver-level quality, or, hopefully, to a New York-level some day.

Readers from the suburbs, have anything else positive to add about our disdained suburbs?

*Also called the Royal City Record, The Record and the New West Record.

1 Comment so far

  1. Paul Hillsdon (unregistered) on October 30th, 2007 @ 10:24 pm

    These are interesting times for sure. As someone who grew up in the suburbs of Surrey, but now commutes and experiences places all around the region, in particular Downtown Vancouver, I’ve come to see the good and bad of both. There are definitely more to the other cities than most Vancouverites would give them credit, however, a lot of that just comes with growth and densification. There’s certain stages that a community hits throughout it’s lifespan, and many of the suburbs are just beginning to really hit the same place Vancouver was about 40-30 years ago.



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