Friday, June 15, 2012


It's been a year since the Stanley Cup riot and, despite its laid-back reputation, Vancouver still seems like such an angry city. If people aren't angry about bike lanes, they're angry about roads, cars, motorcycles with loud pipes, the June weather, the economy, oil tankers, housing prices, Asian investors, the rich, the homeless, store clerks, Gregor Robertson ... especially the bike lanes.

 Just ask businessman Rob Macdonald, who was campaign fundraising chairman for former Vancouver councillor Suzanne Anton, beaten soundly by Robertson in last fall's mayoralty election. Macdonald, a big supporter of cycling in B.C., says the downtown folks he talks to are very angry with the way the bicycle lanes have been introduced and the harmful impact they're having on downtown Vancouver.

"There's unhappiness with the civic government," Macdonald said "And then, of course, there's a feeling of impending doom for the downtown business community of the NDP, the socialists, taking over again."
Indeed, he himself gets angrier by the minute as he talks about the poor design of the bike lanes, their lack of safety and the serious accidents he says they've caused: "The City of Vancouver should be charged with f------ manslaughter."

So should this newspaper columnist, according to those who take issue with my mildly expressed opinion on the possible risks of marijuana smoking and use it to indulge in an orgy of name-calling. Forget mellow yellow, Vancouver has to have the world's angriest pot smokers ... in addition to its angriest hockey fans.

 We in Terminal City love to make mountains out of molehills. We're the Charlie Sheen, if not Mel Gibson, of anger management ... or lack of it.

Veteran Vancouver broadcaster David Berner points out that Vancouver is a divided city. Every day, he says, he meets people who are very sweet and kind. And every day, whether as a pedestrian or a driver, he meets people who are simply "deranged."

 Berner told me he used to joke on the radio that Vancouver is the only city that sells new cars without turn signals:

 "I mean, people are so unkind. I've actually had people drive almost over me, and then give me the finger for daring to walk across ... at marked intersections." 

 The reason for this anger, he added, is that Vancouver has an adolescent culture: "This is not Venice or Paris where people are used to having a glass of wine. This is still a frontier town where every 70-year-old wants to wear designer blue jeans." I completely agree, especially about the blue jeans. 

Sports writer Jim Taylor, though, says Vancouverites have every right to be angry about last year's riot: "You'd have to be brain-dead not to be angry about that."

 And Tourism Vancouver boss Rick Antonson insists that Vancouver is a passionate and spirited city, not an angry one. "The last thing you'd want to be is a robot city," he added. Antonson is absolutely right. A bunch of angry robots is the last thing we need to have to worry — or get angry — about.

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