5 ways Vancouver has changed since I left

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It’s been a year and a half since I left my beloved adopted home of Vancouver for my hometown of Toronto. It was a tough choice to make, as I’d never imagined I would leave a place I felt so enamoured by.  But it was work related decision and an offer that would have been silly to turn down. I made a commitment to return as often as I could, which is why I’ve been here since mid-June.

A few months ago, I decided to take advantage of the freedoms of freelancing and spend some time out West during its prime season: Summer. I arranged a month’s worth of house and cat sits in different parts of town, packed a small suitcase and booked a one-way ticket.

The past six weeks have been full of seawall bike rides, ruby-pink sunsets, and repeatedly eating at my favourite spots. (Since landing, I’ve consumed seven Mee gorengs from Hawkers, six Jamedog burritos from Budgies, and four sukiyaki dons from Sushiyama.)

I’ve also noticed a lot of changes in the time I’ve been away. Aside from the predictable, seemingly never-ending condo development in every neighbourhood around the city, there’s been some delightful progressions that are hard to miss.  Here are the main ones that stuck out to me.

Dude Chilling Park is a go-to destination
Before I left: Guelph Park was a pretty sweet place to chill and have a picnic.
Now: Ever since our sweet little park made international headlines, the now-known Dude Chilling park has become a undeniable tourist attraction. I stayed a few blocks away from the park at local songstress Lisa Joyce’s apartment, while she was away on tour.  Every time I walked by , someone was posing with the sign. It seems like since I’ve left town, Dude Chilling park and its name-sake Reclining Figure have become local celebrities. The story of  the park’s re-imagination  and the community support behind it inspires and enchants me. That combined with the new community garden, simply adds another layer to the neighbourhood’s laid-back and community-oriented feel good vibes.

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I now know what a growler is
Before I left: I would have assumed a “growler” was a type of aggressive dog.
Now: Since coming back, I’ve learned that it’s a large glass jug and an item worth investing in if you’re serious about craft beer. There’s been more than a dozen local breweries that have popped up since I left, making Vancouver a go-to destination for specialized suds.

HAPPY HOUR
Before I left: Vancouver had a long-held reputation of having onerous liquor laws. That’s clearly changed with the introduction of Happy Hour, something I never imagined would happen in our city.
Now: These days, bars and restaurants are full of happy patrons taking full advantage of mid-day drink specials.

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The Fox is actually inviting
Before I left
: After living on Main Street for four years, I was quite familiar with the Fox Theatre. It was a place in which you’d avoid eye contact with those who were exiting the building. That’s because it was Vancouver’s last adult film theatre (with a mural of Scott Baio in the woman’s washroom).
Now: It’s now a revamped venue for music and comedy shows, somewhat reminiscent to Richards on Richards (but about half the size). I had the pleasure of hanging out in its dimly lit, red-hued glory for the rehearsal reunion of the Poppy Family.

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Earnest Ice Cream is now worth waiting in line for
Before I left: A week before I moved to Toronto, someone encouraged me to taste a scoop of salted caramel Earnest Ice Cream cone. I found some at Harvest Community Food on Union Street, and my taste buds have never been quite the same.
Now: While housesitting at Fraser and King Edwards, I notice a line-up that snaked around the block every night between Thursday and Sunday. Upon further investigation, I discovered that the craft ice cream makers had opened a stand-alone shop, which was clearly doing good business. All in under a year an a half. What progress! I suppose that’s what we can call a sweet success.

And with a heavy heart, I return back to my life in the East. I look forward to seeing how my Westcoast home continues to flourish while I’m away. Until next time.

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