Ben Lu, Guest Contributor

In Defence of Downtown – by Ben Lu

Image: Ryan Adams / EyeEm

Image: Ryan Adams / EyeEm


My kid goes to a school in a suburban area so I often hear parents comment about how “downtown living is not good” — that they “could never” raise their family in a condo.

A little while back a good friend bought a place in the suburbs and she, too, declared “downtown is not good for kids or raising a family”.

I need to protest — or rather brag about downtown family life. I love it.

My home is steps away from the best park in the world – we smell the sea breeze. It is downtown that my kid gets to see the microcosm of the world (well sort of) more often than not. Walking in the streets we hear Korean, Japanese, Farsi, Russian, Ukrainian, Italian, Turkish and Spanish and Mandarin spoken –everywhere.  That’s on top of more prevalent English and French.

The library is a few short blocks away from us and we use it.

We see people of all walks in downtown: cross-dressers, flamboyant dressers, those folks who always wear shorts, the ones who live on their roller-skates 24-7. The scents of expensive and cheap perfumes all mixed together, the seniors on their daily turn, gym rats walking about – biceps proudly bare. Men hold hands because they’re in love – and show it, tourists hold their maps asking for directions, the bikes, the loud muscle cars come in marauding about. Downtown.

It’s a lot to take in for sanitized suburbanites — it’s a little messy, squishy, this downtown of ours. Living in Vancouver is privilege.  If you need to ask why, you don’t need the answer.

Don’t even get me started on the food…

Each week we can count on eating fare from at least a half dozen cuisines. Just this week alone we devoured: chicken shawarma, Vietnamese banmih, Japanese BBQ, Xiaolongbao (steamed handmade Shanghai soupy dumplings), kimchi pork bone stew, tacos, hand-pulled Chinese noodles, 4 ramen shops, plus the handmade pasta by a family from Florence, Italy.  OH! And the Bulgarian pastry wasn’t too bad either.

Yup, just one week.  And that’s not counting the gelato place and a stop in the exotic nut shop.

The world is in our downtown.  Why would I trade that for….suburbia?

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  • Reply Alyssa Bauman October 23, 2016 at 10:35 am


  • Reply Karen Nelson October 23, 2016 at 10:47 am

    !! Better words were never written to describe what bringing up family means. You get to expose your kids to the world in your back yard❤️ play on

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