Landscaped, with Buildings

by Zbigniew

Everywhere I go, it’s the same sentiment: “You live in such a beautiful city.”

What to say? How to respond?

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Knocked back and forth across time zones like a human ping-pong ball to a final final approach on YVR. The flight path takes me right over the new outlet mall, an aggregation so vile it resonates simultaneously in aesthetic, social and economic dimensions -an inauspicious return.

Stumbling into the streets, a mildly dissociative state induced by overlapping jet lags is suddenly intensified. I’ve been absent a matter of a few weeks, but the ground has shifted, buckled under a flood of capital. Disoriented, I stumble home.

The cranes are there, of course, but I perceive a shift in their distribution.

The area around the stadium is being “landscaped with buildings,” including the casino and three new residential/commercial towers, with another eight on the books. There are calls to remove the viaducts to “let in a little light,” while new shadows for Broadway & Main are imminent.

In Sunrise I find adjacent storefronts gone dark, multiple houses selling and sold, and orange mesh wrapping the trees of modest bungalows. After 50 years, a neighbour and family friend puts her unassuming home on the market. The new owners re-list two weeks after possession, the price tag augmented by $100,000.

I finally make it home. OPPOSE THE TOWER material awaits me: Keep the Drive Under Five!

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At the 2011 PuSh Festival London-based Peter Reder presented City of Dreams, “a poetic map of the City of Vancouver made from hundreds of found objects that are assembled during the performance … a city recreated from shards of memory and myth, hopes and sufferings.”

As part of the festival, Reder also participated in a symposium, Cartographic Exploits: Marking Territory in the Contemporary City.

When asked whether Vancouver deserved its reputation for being one of the “most beautiful cities in the world,” Reder politely disagreed and offered instead that “Vancouver is one of the most beautifully situated cities in the world.”

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“You live in such a beautiful city.”

Well, it’s an evolving situation.