Culture Shock in South Vancouver

From the penthouse to the basement … since we’ve rented our own place out for a year, and we’re on the road for ten months, we needed a place to stay before and after the Grand Tour. It’s a bit of a culture shock to move from the urban core, where everything we like to do is within walking distance and we hardly ever fire up the car, to the burbs of south Vancouver, our home for the next 26 days, where there’s nothing we like to do within walking distance and everything requires firing up the car. Living downtown has spoiled us, I’m afraid.

The suite itself is quite nice, newly made with new all-Ikea furniture and appliances and, oh joy for Ty, a large flat-screen TV. We haven’t had a TV for 10 years so for the first couple of days we watched it and discovered that, no, nothing has changed, it’s still 500 channels and nothing on … back to the computer screens and the kindles. I had a bit of a meltdown the other day when, for some unknown reason, our internet was down – I really am an addict.

One nice aspect of living in a house is the back yard; we have a grassy area with several beautiful flowers and a gigantic leafy tree for shade, as well as access to the recently constructed deck and BBQ while the house’s owners are away.

This morning, wanting to explore the area on bike, I headed off down towards the Fraser River. Along the way I saw many houses in what appears to be the new Vancouver Special style, a very ornate design, and large house, on the usual 33 foot lot. Each of these houses has the same kind of stone/brick fence and inscribed granite address number plate – whoever is making these is making a fortune. Once having crossed over the very busy, and bike-unfriendly, SE Marine Drive, I followed a guy on a bike onto the Kent Avenue bikeway along the river (I had no idea this bike path existed).

This not-so-scenic route took me past a cement plant, the City of Vancouver recycling depot, and a bunch of small industrial buildings on the river’s edge. Past these the view became better as I was able to turn onto a gravel path that ran right along the river, from which I could watch the tugs towing barges and log booms up towards New Westminster.

Cycling further out along this route I came to some new upscale townhouses and condos in an area that has been christened the “River District”. As with all things related to housing in this town, once someone has a good idea – homes on the river – everyone wants to get in on the action and the area is now in the process of redevelopment all along the river as far as Burnaby.

In certain sections wooden piers and viewing platforms have been erected, from which one can observe the many ducks and herons enjoying the water. Lots of folks take advantage of these to fish, although I’m pretty sure that I’d not eat anything that came from the Fraser River, given its muddy brown colour at the moment and the signs warning of water treatment plant outflow …

Crossing over the city boundary into Burnaby, the river-side area becomes the Burnaby Fraser Foreshore Park, in which apparently bicycles are not allowed on the trails. Bah humbug!

Since riding along the roads here is not at all enjoyable, since they travel through industrial areas and are busy with gigantic trucks and many other speeding vehicles, I ignored the no-cycling signs and rode gently and quietly along the gravel path through the forest, a much more pleasant and scenic — and safe — route. Most of the pedestrians I saw were also ignoring the posted signs with respect to unleashed dogs so I did not feel too bad about my small transgression.

Read more about the River District here.

Read more about the Kent Street bike path here.

Read more about the Burnaby Fraser Foreshore Park here.

See more pictures here.

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