Vancouver Mythbusters

Vancouver Mythbusters

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The myths surrounding Vancouver are as contradictory as the city itself, and are ripe for Vancouver mythbusters to tackle. It is at once beautiful, surrounded by snow-capped mountains and hugged by a rugged coastline, and boring. It is the most livable city in the world, and at the same time, the least affordable. So which myths are true and which are Vancouver urban legend? Here is the fact from the fiction:

1. It always rains in Vancouver.

FALSE. Vancouver has been known as a rainy West Coast city since there has been a Vancouver. Similar to its neighbor Seattle's reputation, people think it is darker than it really is on the Pacific Coast of North America. So here are the facts. According to the Weather Network, using data over the course of 30 years, Vancouver has a lot of rain in the winter months. It can rain roughly 50 percent of the time (if you watched the rainy 2010 Winter Olympics, you will know this is true) – with little rain in the summer months. The myth about Vancouver's rain comes mostly from its long stretches of dark and dreary days, but over the course of one year, some say it is actually the second driest city in Canada. Vancouver urban myth busted.

2. Vancouver is the most livable city in the world.

TRUE and FALSE. Vancouver is often listed in the top three of the world's most livable cities based on education, recreation, safety and health care, among other criteria. In 2010, The Economist listed it as No. 1. So is Vancouver very livable? It sure is if you don't mind sleeping outside. Vancouver is among the most expensive cities in the world to buy a home. In fact, it has been ranked at the top in some surveys. To give you a sense of the problem consider that the average house sells for more than $540,000, and the average household income is just under $60,000. So while healthcare is virtually free and the cost of education is relatively low, it is very expensive to find and pay for a home whether you buy or rent. Perhaps listing Vancouver as the "most visitable" is more suitable; it is better to come and go than to hang around.

3. Vancouver is Hollywood North.

TRUE and FALSE. Vancouver has long been called "Hollywood North" because many American production companies come to the area to shoot movies and TV shows ¬–Twilight: New Moon, Juno, Hot Tub Time Machine – to name just three. The problem with this myth is that Toronto is also called "Hollywood North," attracting just as many American A-listers as the West Coast, and proudly showing them off in their famous annual film festival. So which city is the real deal? Sometimes both. Sometimes neither. It depends on the value of the Canadian dollar, called the loonie. When the loonie is low, companies race to Canada because both cities offer high-quality production at very competitive prices. However, when the loonie is nearly equal to the American dollar, it makes little sense to pack up the whole team and move north. So this Vancouver urban myth is true. But only when it makes economic sense.

4. Vancouver is "No Fun City."

TRUE – sort of. Is it possible that a city with mountains, the sea and beautiful parks could be no fun at all? If you believe urban myths it is. Vancouver has been known as "No Fun City" for so long that documentaries have been made on the subject. And in August 2010, the respected national literary magazine, The Walrus, published an article called "Return to No Fun City," which didn't help matters. So where does this myth come from? It is derived mostly from the city's restrictions on the number of new bars and live venues allowed to open, its tight alcohol laws and because the city's lower-income artsy neighborhoods are being knocked down and rebuilt by developers looking for higher rent and "better quality tenants." Is Vancouver really no fun? If you're young, the answer is most likely yes.

5. Vancouver is Asia West.

Vancouver has more in common with Hong Kong than it does with Canada's capital, Ottawa, Ontario. That is the myth, and in a way, it is true. Geographically, Vancouver is located farther from the east coast of its own country than it is from Honolulu, Hawaii, so you can see why it has developed a population and a culture all its own. Although many believe the Asian influence in Vancouver started with the mass influx of Hong Kong residents when China took over that country, Asians have been coming to the Canadian west since the gold rush days of the 19th century. Today Vancouver has the highest number of Asian residents than any other city in North America. This has led to excellent Asian-influenced restaurants, theater, art and architecture.

Hopefully these Vancouver mythbusters have dispelled some false notions about our fair city.

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