Shiny Objects: A Tale of Two (Disparate) Cities

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Anders Sandberg. Vancouver. 2004. Flickr.com. Web. Dec 3. 2017. 

A few weeks ago, I visited Eastern Canada for the first time, and not the Eastern Canada of icebergs, lighthouses and Maritime Provinces, but the mecca of Montreal. I had long heard about the city, of its European feel and obsession with things like pastry and cheese, its striking architecture and the famed McGill University. And while there were a lot of things I loved about it, I was struck by how different it felt from Vancouver. On the face of it, it may sound stupid, but Montreal had a maturity, a grappling with its many communities and narratives that, these days, are fast dissolving away on the West Coast.

There are things I love ardently about Vancouver – Stanley Park and the mild weather, coffee culture and progressive values – but the city has a dangerous obsession with shiny objects, an obsession that is starting to become devastating to all of the other things that I love. If anything, the recent sponsored exhibition by the real estate developer Westbank is an indication of this obsession; a love that, with each new DEVELOPMENT APPLICATION sign with a picture of a swerving, spiralling shard of glass that will obliterate all else that surrounds, becomes ever more apparent.

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