Do you love where you live? Today our Downtown Vancouver Contributor Alexis Hinde shares what makes the city’s core a great family neighbourhood.
Most people don’t think “downtown Vancouver” and “raising a family” in the same sentence. They should. From the bricks of Gastown to the glass towers of Yaletown and the tree-lined streets of the West End, downtown Vancouver’s a great place for kids, and here’s why:
Diversity Helps you Love Where you Live
Downtown Vancouver is diverse. With its rich mix of cultures and nationalities, people of all ages, skin colours, and languages call its neighbourhoods home. Being exposed to a variety of cultural norms teaches children respect for the differences that make downtown living such a vibrant experience. Seeing different styles of dress piques a child’s curiosity, leading them to learn about different traditions and beliefs. Hearing a variety of languages spoken around them makes children aware of Vancouver’s diversity. Attending free multicultural events like Granville Street’s Afro-Brazilian Block Party, Chinatown’s Summer Night Market, and the Hare Krishna Festival of India in Stanley Park provides an opportunity to learn about geography and history. Vancouver’s Pride Parade shows children that families are families, regardless of how they come to be.
With diversity comes amazing food. Oh, the food! Nothing helps you love where you live like a great meal. The wealth of street cart food and restaurant choices mean an adventurous eater never has a chance to become bored. Empanadas or sushi, Szechuan or hot pot, Indian or Greek or a fusion of many styles, there’s no shortage of opportunities for a kid to learn about the world around them.
You may hear Downtown Vancouver and think business district or club scene, bit it’s actually Kid-Friendly Central. From the rainy day sanctuary of the Aquarium to the great family programs at the Vancouver Art Gallery, there’s always something happening for the kids. There’s a reason people from all over the region come here for family fun. Community centres in the West End, Coal Harbour, and Yaletown offer reasonably-priced classes in everything from ice-skating to sign language, and from music to self-defense. The Vancouver Public Library’s two downtown branches have children’s programs running almost every day, and the Vancouver Aquatic Centre has a great toddler pool with excellent instructors.
There’s something about water that really makes you love where you live, and you’re never far from the beach downtown. You can stroll the seawall, coffee in hand, or bicycle safe from traffic year round. Parks abound, and playgrounds are sprinkled throughout the downtown core. Water parks in Stanley Park and Coal Harbour make for warm-weather fun, and joining 300,000 other people to watch fireworks on your doorstep is a specifically downtown Vancouver summer ritual. Winter brings Santa Claus and the Chinese New Year Parade to our streets. With most venues and events within walking distance or a quick bus or bike ride away, there’s never a need to find parking.
Downtown Vancouver is also the home of both wealth and poverty, and there are some necessary lessons there. When a child sees a homeless person on a street of shiny glass towers, that leads to important conversations about opportunity, education, mental health, and life choices. When no one lives in a bubble, the door is opened to talking about compassion and the importance of philanthropy. Kids learn to recognize their own position of privilege, and the responsibility that comes with it to leave the world a better place than they found it – even if all a three year old can do is donate the toys he doesn’t play with anymore and treat every person he meets, regardless of their circumstances, with dignity and respect.
I love my Downtown Vancouver neighbhourhood, and can’t imagine raising my family anywhere else. Why do you love where you live?