I’m not leaving !
Today I read a Vancity buzz article written by someone likely my age, contemplating staying in Vancouver or leaving. I thought it was annoying. Millennials are very annoying. I would know, because I am one. I’ve also spent most of the last decade moving away from Vancouver or moving back to Vancouver. For the record, since graduating from university I’ve lived in Surabaya (Indonesia), Ankara (Turkey) and Gold Coast (Australia). About 4.5 out of the past 8 years has been in flux. Most recently I had the opportunity to move to London (England).
But, for once, I decided to stay !
Lately there has been a lot written about the general doom and gloom of the Vancouver condition – the city is going to be a ghost town soon ! Foreign ownership ! Millennials can’t buy houses! It rains ! It’s boring !
I’ve myself written, ranted and cried about the struggle of living in Vancouver many times over the years.
As one would say in organizer circles – “suffering is optional“. If you are suffering the rain, the expensiveness, the weird west coast Vancouver specific doucheyness, and also hate skiing, hiking or camping – I’d say, get out.
But if you do love these things, or can at least put up with these things, I say – stay ! If everyone accepts defeat at the hands of corporations and poor government policy (housing, wages …) and packs up – who is going to fight for what’s left? And I think it is important to remember that …
People are fighting, and sometimes even winning.
Remember that election we had, oh, a few months ago? I don’t think many people anticipated that kind of change. But people worked hard to get the vote out and people voted for something other than the status quo. When I moved home most recently I started volunteering with Dogwood – which identifies itself as an environmental democracy group. Environment. Democracy. Two things I love about Canada and the west coast. Dogwood had some wins this year and you can read more about them here.
Maybe that’s not your interest. Fine. Do you really care about affordable housing? So does the Metro Vancouver Alliance. They do more than sign petitions and protest, they take action. That was from their website, but the alliance does work with dozens of community groups to facilitate change in areas like affordable housing – by working together, showing up, and taking a stand.
Democracy only really works if people are engaged (and enraged?). It is very easy to do shitty things to the public if not enough people are actively pissed off. On Sunday a group of protestors went and … protested. At the site of a perfectly good monster house on the Westside set to be demolished, to build another monster house. City Councillor Adriane Carr was at the protest, and agreed that the zoning bylaws need to be changed. Even if it was just for a photo op – if enough people are kicking up a fuss eventually the powers that be are forced to listen.
We are still fortunate to live in a democracy that more or less functions.
It’s not going to be easy to fight for affordable housing and living wages while balancing foreign investment / ownership over local concerns and priorities. We’ve all got a choice. Fight for your home, or pack up for greener pastures. But if nobody fights, well, I guess we all lose.
So, I’m staying and fighting for …
Wreck Beach – Is this not the chillest beach, like, ever?
(No photos, because it’s kind of frowned upon)
The Cambie Bridge – Walking to and from downtown over this bridge, at anytime, provided it is not pouring rain.
Skiing, hiking, camping, kayaking, walking … (yes, if you are going to live here I would suggest you like at least 3 of those things.)
It’s just beautiful, a lot of the time.
** I have had many adventures, and hope to have many more. Living abroad is an amazing experience, but you will only ever have one real home. It might be a place that you’ve chosen, or a place that wasn’t chosen for you. I just hope that when you do find your home, you fight for it.