Pubdate: Fri, 17 Apr 2009
Source: Richmond News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2009, Lower Mainland Publishing Group Inc.
Author: Tracy Sherlock


What's happening to my city? I'm talking about Metro Vancouver 
- --although I live in Richmond, I consider this city an extension of Vancouver.

I wasn't born in the Lower Mainland, but I've lived here all my life, 
and on my father's side I am a fourth generation Vancouverite. 
There's even a small park named after my family on the city's east 
side near 19th Avenue and Main Street.

I've resisted moving to another part of the country, despite the 
astronomical cost of housing, because I love it here.

What's not to love? The weather's fantastic, the air's relatively 
clean and the neighbourhoods are quaint. The famous cliche is that 
only in Vancouver is it possible to ski the North Shore mountains in 
the morning, and swim in the Pacific Ocean in the afternoon. We've 
got a relaxed West Coast morality, along with the unique cultures of 
Kitsilano, the university endowment lands, Shaughnessy and Commercial Drive.

More specifically in Richmond we've got the dyke, Steveston, pristine 
parks and recreation centres, farm markets and the sparkling oval.

But it appears the shine is coming off my incredible home.

"From heaven to hell: 18 die as drugs war rages on streets of 
Vancouver," one international headline reads. "The Canadian city has 
been named the best place in the world to live. But those halcyon 
days are over," the subhead in Britain's Independent newspaper continues.

On Wednesday morning, a woman was found shot in her car in a Richmond 
parking lot. Until then, Richmond was fortunate to avoid the worst of 
the crossfire of this latest gang war, but I knew it couldn't last. 
While the circumstances of this crime are still unknown, the killing 
appears to have been targeted.

The Independent's article describes my beloved hometown as having 
"blood-spattered streets littered with shell casings and corpses."

Any culture that allows 24-year-old boys to become so ingrained in 
gang culture that they're accused of multiple murders needs to take a 
close look at how they're raising their sons. How do these babies 
turn into killers before they're even properly grown up? Is it drugs, 
TV, video games? We owe it to ourselves to figure this phenomenon out.

The same weekend that these headlines besmirched Vancouver's 
reputation, a 53-year-old mom of two was murdered while running 
through Pacific Spirit Park in a seemingly random attack.

Then, on Monday morning, a homeless man confined to a wheelchair was 
found murdered in the bushes near an elementary school by parents 
dropping their kids off at school.

The drug war killing gangsters is bad enough, but now we have two 
apparently unrelated vicious murders of people who appear to be innocent.

The Main and Hastings aspect of Vancouver may be spreading to 
Granville and Broadway, King Edward and Arbutus, or even No. 3 Road 
and Westminster Highway.

All that's great about Vancouver applies to the rest of the Lower 
Mainland, but we've got to take the good with the bad.

This means that whether we live in Richmond, Surrey, West Van or 
Delta, we've got a problem on our hands.

I know we can never go back to those pre-Expo '86 days of being a 
small city, but we've got to do something to stop the violence from 
becoming a permanent fixture. Action is needed, and I find it 
frustrating not to know where to begin or what to suggest.

In 2008 the Economist named Vancouver the world's most liveable city. 
I daresay we'll be losing that title for 2009.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom