Sunday, May 21, 2006

Not much renovating.

We've been busy doing everything but renovating lately. Shopping Main St., socializing, stilting, visiting the Okanagan, unpacking, stilting some more. The weather's been great: warm & sunny most days. Grouse Mountain's flash of white is turning dirt-coloured as the snow melts.

I love this neighborhood. Living on the Drive was great, but after 8 years... The heart of the Drive, around 1st Avenue & Commercial is still great, although longer-term merchants are getting priced out with rent hikes by greedy landlords. It's gone a little more upscale. You can tell how high the rent is by how spacious & open the stores feel. Places like Beckwoman's or Kitchen Corner can only survive when the rents are cheap.

What depressed me was watching the area around the Skytrain stations & 10th Avenue take a nosedive. When we moved into the neighborhood in 2001, the dealing was minimal & panhandling was common. 10th & Commercial is now a major drug dealing corner, with a regular crew of junkies & dealers crouching on the corners & creeping through the shrubs to shoot up or smoke behind the dollar store. There is a gamut of panhandlers to walk through when exiting the station. There's broken car window glass all over the streets & used needles in everybody's gardens within a 4-block radius. I no longer feel confident & safe about walking to the video store there in the evenings. That says a lot, as I've always felt that Vancouver is a safe city & I refuse to fear walking alone at night.

To be fair, I don't have a problem with panhandlers if they're not aggressive, or junkies, as long as they don't use my back garden to pitch used sharps. It was the dealers I was worried about. If anybody's going to be armed, I think it's likely to be them, the guys holding the valuable stash of heroin or crack.

Although Mount Pleasant used to be famous for its prostitution problems, they're long gone. Despite our proximity to Canada's poorest postal code, the Downtown Eastside, I see less wrenching poverty & no dealers on my way home from work. Nobody's doing 're-ups' in front of my home & I've never seen the cops stop anybody except drivers going through red lights.

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