Let’s play some word association. When I say Vancouver, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?
The only place in Canada that isn’t an ice block for 6 months of the year.
Creating smart cities is a daunting task, with hours upon hours studying how we live, work and interact. There’s a common thread in the urban planner handbook that argues diversity is key - diversity of buildings, diversity in activities, and especially diversity in citizens.
So, when urban planners judge that a community is becoming less diverse for any reason, they raise the red flag.
The Urbanarium City Debate did just that in Vancouver this January, asking the tough question:
is Vancouver repelling creative citizens?
Vancouver: Designed for the Rich?
It’s a beautiful spot. Right on the coast with a downtown filled with historical buildings.
Temperate weather. A distinct culture grown from their relative isolation from the rest of Canada.
It’s also surrounded by mountains that create natural barriers to new real estate development that other cities have used to keep their residential and commercial real estate values more in line with earning potential.
It’s an interesting combination, that in conjunction with record low mortgage rates has driven up the cost of living in Vancouver and area, and causing the typically lower income from fleeing to cheaper places.
The lower income in question here are artists and creatives that society generally associates with positive economic impact, but negative personal economy.
In other words, we like having them around, but often they can’t afford to be around.
Design Art vs Design Business
The argument from one side, is that Vancouver is just too expensive to accommodate the artists, musicians, authors and others working to put their art in the public eye/ear, but are unable to scoop up enough cash for their efforts.
The other side of the debate reveals doubt that a mass exodus of creatives is actually occurring, and that Vancouver still represents a great place for artists, designers, creatives and artistic entrepreneurs to launch their success story.
The loss of traditional entertainment venues to condo complexes argues one side. The bursting tech and digital media economy in “San Fran North” argues the other side.
However, that one style of art is geared towards the public good, the other to private.
But is economic stability really a reason to discount a successful sector?
The Urbanariums argue that Vancouver has been an incubator for urban design, art and social politics, but that this is coming to a halt due to the runaway real estate market. But are activism and economic success truly mutually exclusive?
Do artists really need to struggle?
I’m sorry. That was blunt. What I meant to say was… no.
I would argue that the designers that we employ are incredible artists. They have an eye for form, for colour, for interpretation. The difference is that they also have purpose. Their designs are not just aesthetic. They have a reason for being.
So, the explosion of tech startups and creative enterprises, including a vast array of Vancouver web design companies, argue that Vancouver continues to attract a diverse mix of artists and creatives.
However, the cliché of the starving artist? That may well be fading, as artists find newways to reach their audience, to gain popularity and to continue to grow in their creativity.
And maybe that’s what Vancouver aspires to be.
What do you think? Let us know below!