Ask anyone,  I’m a very nice person. Polite, inclusive, open minded – one who genuinely accepts diversity. Mine is a mixed race family, I champion equality, civil rights and inclusion. A proud Canadian swaddled in multiculturalism and empathy, struggling with an onslaught of percolating dismay. Powerless to bottle fermenting resentment, hating myself for being offended.

Difficult to pin point or quantify, offense evolved over a number of years. Independent of stereotypes, profiling or judgement, offense was given infinite opportunity to dissolve. I made excuses for it, dismissed incidents as isolated, scolded myself for being a lousy human.

Feeling sorry for the five year old Chinese boy who flattened my toddler on the playground. The boy who attacked my two year old for no reason, then crossed arms, set his jaw, looked me in the eye and said “he’s only a whitey” – his father is black, never mind. The Chinese family who invited other son over to play after school, wouldn’t let me pick him up because the “driver” would deliver him, then found out they made him shower because they thought he was dirty. WTF? We laughed, I wasn’t offended, pissed maybe but willing to write it off.

Hardly of mind to judge an entire race by actions of a few, life went on. We told ourselves “cultural differences” accounted for inappropriate misunderstanding. 1997 saw sovereignty of Hong Kong revert from the UK to China, we understood the influx of foreign money. Busloads of real estate tourists, skittish to obtain safe financial haven accounted for Vancouver’s real estate boom. What began as a trickle, became a deluge. A blitzkrieg of foreign property investment culminating in Vancouver ‘s staggering housing costs. Unchecked, systematic obliteration of middle class housing in Vancouver.

On my block, three homes have been empty for 8-10 years. Gardeners appear, lights on timers go on and off, but nobody lives there. The scene plays out, block after block in any direction. Last year, investigations by a local paper reported something like 65% of homes sold in the last two years were registered to “house-wives” earning less than $50,000 a year – translation, multi million dollar home owners exempt from income tax. Not a day goes by without a mail box stuffed with flyers from Chinese real estate agents. ( pictured below, the 2 waiting for me today). Canada has two official languages, French and English – what a joke. Agents don’t even try to behave like Canadians. Chinese characters dominate advertising.

The other day a Chinese agent knocked on my door. She thrust a business card in my hand, saying in broken English “I buy your house”. I’m offended.

This week a Globe and Mail investigation revealed a litany of sordid, under-handed practices aimed at benefiting Chinese buyers. Reports of real estate agents listing their location rather than buyers address on Federal money laundering forms. Agents navigating loop-holes to flip properties several times (collecting multiple commissions ) before registering a sale. ( See link below ).

Hating myself for feeling grumpy, teetering on the brink of outright hostility, loathing myself for being a bitch – offended is putting it mildly. Truth be told, I’m offended because we could have avoided all this drama. Canadians are swell, unassuming and polite people willing to welcome with open arms. Had Chinese money bothered to bridle greed/panic long enough to realize a little effort in English goes a long way, I would applaud rather than fixate on offensive behavior. Offended stems from blatant disregard for those who call Vancouver home. Would it kill you to conduct yourself with a modicum of decency towards my home and native land?

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Ambleside Park

Crossing Lion’s Gate Bridge from Vancouver takes you to West Vancouver’s Ambleside Park. By day, pulsating to melodies of dog walks and recreational pursuits. At night ethereal songs of darkness resonate across abandoned walkways.

Lion’s Gate bridge from Ambleside

Photo credits to my husband, linked above.


Fixer Upper

If any doubt existed regarding Vancouver real estate – ponder this little fixer upper, listed at $2.398,000.

Vancouver home listing 1


Vancouver home listing 2

I’m not being fair, the 86 year old beauty pictured above is situated in desirable Point Grey. Close to the University of B.C., outstanding public schools and impeccably maintained parks. A 2,069 square foot home, on 4,026 square foot lot begging for demolition – $2.39 million buys a piece of land. Out of your league? Never fear, compromise a little on public school demographics, marginally elevated crime rates and consider the home below. Just listed at $1,099,000.

Enough with tear downs, you want a house to live in. How about this charmer in south Vancouver. Built in 1960 – 5 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms on a 7,781 square foot lot. Close to shopping and transit, it will set you back $4,500,000.

MLS® V1109828

Oh man, you don’t want to spend more than a few million? For $2,580,000 the 3 bedroom, 2 bath property below might do the trick.

Purely for shits and giggles – Mailin Chen, a businessman from mainland China purchased the 25,000 square foot property below (in Point Grey,technically the same neighborhood as the tear down pictured first) for $51 million. Story linked below image.


A Glimpse of Winter

Rain forest winter arrives with November gales. Powerless to squelch winter monotones, autumn hues surrender to prevailing winds. Daylight wanes, skies darken, rain makes camp. Dreary days turn to weeks, sunlight plays a fickle game of hide and seek. Occasionally a fleeting punctuation of jet stream leniency heralds arctic outflow conditions – a brief respite marked by brilliant sun and unseasonably cool temperatures. The rain forest holds its breath, snowfalls’ only chance occurs on the cusp of Pacific moisture colliding with arctic chill. Several years can pass without a flake of snow, every decade or so measurable accumulations ignite a tizzy of seasonal hysteria.

Despite the passing of forty years in Vancouver, Canadian winter flickers in nostalgic vignettes.Pressing pennies against frost on my bedroom window, standing back to admire patterns of perfect impressions. Enormous icicles defiantly begging one of us to knock them down. Beyond childhood fancy, nostalgia cries for the ceremony of winter. Away from the rain forest, winter is a surety. Winter boots and jackets lined up by the end of October, snow tires installed by first frost, garden tools replaced with snow shovels – But for the rain forest, a nation of realists embrace winter with pragmatic diligence.

As I write, relentless rain assaults my window. A 60% chance of rain is forecast for the next 14 days. What I wouldn’t give to hear the inexplicable hush of snowflakes, to gaze at night skies wrapped in distinctive layers of snowy reflection or revel in crunches of fresh snow under my boots. For now, I live vicariously through images taken by my husband last week in Alberta.

Snippets of Santa Claus Parade

Void of demands for propriety or explanation, photographs are conduits to an alternate reality. A thousand images taken by a thousand people at the exact same spot, result in a thousand interpretations of that moment in time. A thousand realities defining the blink of an eye.

Ponder this afternoon’s Santa Claus parade in Vancouver – a single point of view from my husband’s perspective.