The surprisingly popular essay on Vancouver by local writer Timothy Taylor:

Still, for me, West Coast wackiness doesn’t capture it entirely. Sure, Vancouver can be seen as culturally contiguous to other coastal urban zones that celebrate individual expression: the Castro district in San Francisco, Echo Park in Los Angeles, Portlandia, etc. But what really defines it is a relative lack of assumptions. I travel a lot and I love urban life generally. And what strikes me about where I live is that local residents cannot resort to a unifying cliché. Parisians and Romans, Shanghainese and Chicagoans seem always to know the essential civic myths. In Vancouver, ask a random citizen and you’re liable to get anything. …

It reads like no planning, although that’s not quite true either. We have had no Haussmann in Vancouver, no L’Enfant Plan. But there is Vancouverism, a clustering of planning principles that gives rise to tall residential towers, view corridors, lots of parks. The city is friendly to immigrants and our streets reflect that. Only a little over half of us are Caucasian. Visit Gastown and count the languages you hear as you walk up Hastings Street, past the downtown campus of Simon Fraser University to Victory Square — Arabic, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Portuguese, Spanish. …

People will continue to come here and make up their stories as they go along. And if the sense of impermanence gets to us on occasion — which it will as we age, as we see ourselves ever more clearly, more soberly, more compassionately aware of all that we still do not do well — then we Vancouverites can take a moment to raise our eyes out of the city to those towering highlands, to the crisp lattice of snow. We’ll picture the cougars still prowling there, the swaying trees. We will see ourselves as if from a pebbly shore, a mirage trapped between what is above and below: a rolling, improvisatory work in progress.

Full essay here.