Vancouver B.C., the edge city, is
poised to join the big leagues.
As Canada’s orphan,
Vancouver, a city of two million, has gained a distinctive, independent identity. It’s natural alignments on the Pacific
Rim are Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco.
As perceived by the citizens of Toronto, Quebec
City, or Montreal, Vancouver might as well be on another planet.
Vancouver has a lot going for it, including
the mildest climate north of the 49th parallel. It is set in a ravishingly dramatic peninsula near ocean, archipelago,
glacier, volcano, fiords, flood plains, rain forest, rivers and snow-capped Alpine-like peaks. Its temperate and fertile soil
insures a lush landscape. Only a century old, it emerged from the surrounding wilderness and quickly developed a "genius loci."
During the ten weeks of summer sun the beaches
along the city’s waterfront are packed with "lotus land" pretenders. Outdoor cafes, music, shorts and flip-flops transform
the streetscape. The L.A. connection doesn’t stop there. Both are young cities that grew up with the automobile. But
Vancouver’s freeways don’t interfere with the central city-- where there’s a Sky Train system. Both are
cities of immigrants with great diversity of cultures.
is the most northerly major city in North America. It's growth is compact; so far it has shunned big-box
retailers, big-scale urban renewal, and clogged traffic. From the onset, it has been a ‘flux’ city– whatever
newcomers want it to be.
As such, it is the perennial
immigrant’s city of the imagination– and has an energetic small business sector.Vancouver is sometimes
referred to as the social Petri dish of Canada. Most citizens are non-English speaking (of that
group, the preponderant language is Chinese.)
Shunning traditions of Canada’s other
urban centers, Vancouver is busy writing a new mythology for itself as a new model of urbanism. It sees itself as a work in
progress and a ‘moving target.’ The buzz from its leaders is "smarter city," "new urban ecology," and ‘reinventing
ourselves." There is a self-conscious selling of the city as the next global marketplace with a thriving "green R&D" and
a growing creative class.
In 2003 Vancouver made a submission to the International
Sustainable Urban Systems Design Competition (organized by the International Gas Union (IGU). IGU’s goal is for cities
to collaborate with the energy sector to find sustainable solutions to global environmental problems. Vancouver won, beating
out San Diego, Tokyo, Goa, Vologda, and Berlin.
Vancouver's dream of ascendance was realized
when it hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics.