A Breather in British Columbia: Few Cities Are So Serious about Being Laid-Back as Vancouver

The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine), October 2010 | Go to article overview

A Breather in British Columbia: Few Cities Are So Serious about Being Laid-Back as Vancouver


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PERHAPS OWING TO ITS WEST COAST VIBE and multicultural and tolerant population, Vancouver, in Canada's British Columbia province, is an enviably habitable city that seemingly has more in common with Seattle--a short two hours' drive--than the next large Canadian city, Calgary, 11 hours away and past some serious mountain ranges.

Since Vancouver is geographically confined on a peninsula, its urban sprawl is kept in check. In Yaletown, the city rises up in eco-friendly glass towers ("EcoDensity" is a planning initiative that aims to reduce the city's carbon footprint by encouraging walking and biking and using new efficient materials and systems in buildings). In historic cobble-paved Gastown, 19th-century buildings, now home to locavore restaurants, wine bars, and pubs, are impeccably maintained. Gastown's smart, award-winning Boneta (Boneta.ca) features a fresh, vibrant menu and a slick open kitchen, and nearby Salt Tasting Room (SaltTastingRoom.com) offers local charcuterie and regional wines in a cellar-like communal dining environment.

Residents are a diverse and gregarious mix, ready to offer directions or suggestions on a place to get a bite. In this Pacific Rim port city, a quarter of the populace speaks Chinese as a first language, and generally everyone gets along amicably. Gays are found throughout the city but make up a sizable percentage of the residents of Commercial Drive (TheDrive.ca), a lesbian-popular neighborhood of organic cafes and consignment shops, and the West End, where one can find Davie Village, a concentration of bars, pubs, and clubs like 19-and-over dance hall Celebrities (CelebritiesNightclub. …

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