When I moved to Vancouver in 1978, the English Bay Seawall ended at the Aquatic Centre. The path itself was only about eight feet wide; pedestrians and cyclists shared the route – and the roller blade hadn’t even been invented. Most people circumnavigated Stanley Park and called it a day. This would not have been the typical view of the seawall along the beach:
I wonder what percentage of Vancouver is out stolling the seawall – any part of its 26 connected miles – at any one time? How do people get to the seawall, how far do they walk or cycle, how often do they use it? While no doubt it has made a great contribution to our health, both physical and emotional – even spiritual – I believe the seawall provides one other great service for Vancouver: it allows us to see ourselves. This common sharing of space, on which we pass each other with a casual intimacy, gives us a regular opportunity, citizen and visitor alike, to at least know who we are, to look each other in the eye if we wish, and to build that critical commodity called civility.