The Lifestyle Bubble
“For the port authority, a key issue is the dwindling supply of industrial space near marine terminals. Municipalities in the Lower Mainland have responded to soaring demand for real estate by re-zoning commercial land for condos and retail. But [Port Metro Vancouver CEO Robin] Silvester warns the trend will soon begin to choke off the port’s operations if big companies … can no longer find adjacent land to build or expand their distribution centres. ‘We’re at a risk of hitting an economic brick wall,’ he says, adding that it’s not just a local issue since one out of every five dollars of trade with Canada moves through Vancouver. ‘We think there’s less than a 10-year supply of industrial land left in the Lower Mainland.’”
“What’s the point of Vancouver?“, Chris Sorensen, Maclean’s
From Port Metro Vancouver’s Port 2050, “Local Fortress” scenario:
“Toward the end of this scenario, the Lower Mainland looks very different than it did in 2011. In many areas, including Burrard Inlet, waterfront industry has given way to residential uses and tourism amenities.
“Some people view this transition as a positive outcome. For those who can afford it, the Lower Mainland is still a pleasant place to live and visit. But something important has been lost in this urban experiment. The region has become a lifestyle bubble for many; a place to retire and retreat.
“While ethnically still diverse, the region is paradoxically less global, more inwardly focused and less tolerant of different worldviews. Looking back, that creative tension between business and community was an important source of balance and vitality in the region. By pushing major industry outside of the Lower Mainland, the area lost some of its character, vibrancy and its sense of authenticity.”
Walking north, across Venables and along the tracks. It’s industrial-strength Sunday quiet.
No one’s around at the moment, but it’s clear people live here. There are rudimentary shelters, waste (a diverse assortment of empty containers, a disemboweled flat tube era television) and photos -although these seem to lack a personal connection and are only remotely decorative.
Moving on. A few steps north, just on the other side of the Hastings viaduct, and I am suddenly disoriented. Something’s missing. I take in the pit, the excavation, the crane standing at the ready, and I know that more people will be sleeping by the tracks, many more. But officially: legally sanctioned, neatly demarcated into numbered rectangular parcels, with decorative prints, flat screen TVs, and scheduled rubbish removal.
The assembly is just a formality. This is old. The pressure front has already moved on. Immediately to the west and north, in the crane’s shadow, encroaching on that narrow strip between Hastings and the water, the mistakable signs of the advancing bubble.