I didn’t even visit Vancouver before moving here: the lure of being close to the Pacific Ocean and the vast coastal rainforests was enough to make me commit to the city sight unseen. After growing up in the Greater Toronto Area, I was ready to swap snowy winters, humid summers, flat landscapes and crazy traffic for their opposites. (I’ve won on every point except the traffic; Vancouver’s transportation infrastructure is constantly playing catch-up with its population growth.)
Life here has been full of awe-inspiring and challenging experiences. Despite some roadblocks, it’s now my home. But this past fall, I wavered for a while in my commitment. With three deaths in my family, an entire generation on one side was no longer with us. I yearned to be back in Ontario, spending time with those who remained. And the bad news seemed to keep rolling relentlessly in: Friends were diagnosed with serious medical conditions or job losses or simply decided to move away. I too was dealing with some health challenges, plus a temporary but major ramp-up in stress and demands at my work. With most of my energy devoted to dealing with these two issues, I wasn’t spending enough time outside, with friends or travelling around the city. That took its toll on me.
Vancouver is an expensive place to live. The same growth (much of it from immigration) that gives the city its vibrancy also drives up housing costs, congests roads, and sometimes causes social tensions. These factors, plus those in my personal life, had me seriously considering moving on.
It took a winter Saturday to rekindle my passion. When the sun came out, the water was calling me. I booked a car and spent the day walking around Spanish Banks towards the University of British Columbia. Bundled up, I walked along the damp sand, watching the waves as they curled onto the shore with a series of soothing sighs. With shoreline, trees and the North Shore mountains filling my field of view, I sat on a driftwood log and soaked up the vitamin D and salt air. I realized that it was time to renew my love for Vancouver. Just as you make the effort to have regular “date nights” to keep a long-term relationship fresh, I needed to make the time to once again do the things that made me fall in love with the city in the first place.
Vancouver is beyond beautiful. I’ve chronicled only few of its endless attractions in my posts: watching the sunsets at English Bay, walking along the seawall, hiking through the forests of Stanley Park or the Endowment Lands, or heading out to the westside beaches. You can kayak within city limits, spotting seals (and, if you’re really lucky, Orcas). Just outside the city, wilderness beckons with rainforest, glacier lakes, mountain cliffs and the salty, cold ocean. After your adventures, Vancouver offers you the chance to indulge with inexpensive-yet-delicious sushi, more micro-breweries than you can keep track of, food trucks hawking everything from classic comfort food to wildly inventive cultural fusions, and weekend brunches at your local diner.
I made a decision that day at Jericho. I can’t change the meta-challenges the city is facing. I can only act locally, doing my part with small acts like smiling at strangers, making my slice of Vancouver the best it can be.
I have a mission: this summer, after I recover from a spring surgery, I’m doing everything in my power to fall head over heels back in love with Vancouver.
I would really appreciate your help. Please share what you love about Vancouver or the surrounding area! I already have a few camping trips planned, and I’m working on my list of day hikes and activities to experience for the first time or re-visit. I’ll be sharing some of my adventures here. Together, we can inspire locals who need reminding what makes this city great and visitors who are falling in love with Vancouver for the first time.