A Modern City-State

Marc Lee, Senior Economist, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives BC: My Vancouver dream is like those ones when you are there in your house and are doing stuff - but it is not really your house here on planet Earth. My Vancouver dream is a lucid dream; I am not passively watching but am an agent of change.

In my Vancouver, we are all still here. The Big One has not hit. Climate change has not levelled the city in a massive storm, or, as is perhaps more likely, Vancouver is not such a desired location to flee to that we turn into a mega-city of Sao Paulo proportions.

My Vancouver is a modern city-state, with plenty of autonomy from Victoria to do what needs to be done. Infused with democratic spirit and drive, people contribute to budget and policy debates, and thus shape the decisions that affect their lives.
In my Vancouver, there are fewer streets and more pedestrian- and bike-friendly greenways. There are streetcars everywhere (call it LRT or light rail, if you like) and they are free and used by people of all social classes. There are many cooperative electric cars (fully electric, not hybrids) on the roads, but few feel the need to own a private car.

In my Vancouver, the minimum wage is at least $15 an hour (which might seem like a lot but amounts to $31,200 per year full-year, full-time). Workers who do the least desirable jobs can afford to live in the city.

In my Vancouver, we build homes for all people. Social housing is the first priority for people with mental health issues and addictions. That's one reason why in my Vancouver, there is no poverty. Food banks have been eradicated, because no one is going hungry. And not because we have pushed all the "undesirables" out of town, but because we have built truly inclusive communities.

My Vancouver has an Amsterdam-style red light district. BC bud is not only legal but a legitimate source of income for thousands of growers and café owners. An extra $10 billion shows up in the provincial GDP.

In my Vancouver, we have daylighted streams now buried under blacktop, using the Renfrew ravine as a model.

My Vancouver Canucks win the Stanley Cup, beating the Toronto Maple Leafs in overtime of game seven.

My Vancouver has the nightlife of Montreal or Barcelona. The streets of downtown buzz 24/7 with activity. Lots of artists, musicians and creative people live here.

In my Vancouver, the False Creek Flats have morphed into a mixed-use community that connects Strathcona with Mt. Pleasant. And you can take a gondola from Glen Clark station (aka Vancouver Community College) to Science World.

In my Vancouver, a new soccer stadium does not get built downtown, but the waterfront from Canada Place to Crab Park is integrated with the existing seawall. The area is opened up to bikes and pedestrians, and connects the waterfront to Gastown and the Downtown Eastside. Emulating Sydney Harbour, the Seabus terminal is expanded to provide marine access to Ambleside, Bowen Island, Deep Cove, Belcarra and Port Moody.

My Vancouver feeds itself locally, for the most part. People are growing food everywhere - on what used to be their lawn, in community gardens, on rooftops. Connections to local farmers are so good that Safeway slips back across the border. No one notices
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My Vancouver does not have one corporation controlling three of the daily newspapers. Big global corporations have been pushed to the margins. They still peddle high-tech gadgetry, but most of the stores are locally owned and operated.

My Vancouver is deeply democratic, egalitarian and sustainable. The world looks to us not just as a pretty face, but as a new social model of the good society.
My Vancouver is a dream. Can we make it a reality?

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