Marpole, a neighborhood on the southern edge of Vancouver. The neighborhood is easy to access by train and is only two stations away from the airport. It is neither crowded, nor quiet. The neighborhood has big buildings, but also small houses. The buildings serve mostly a housing function, since they are filled with apartments. It is provided with shops and playgrounds, but neither look very attractive. The shops are located next to a busy street and the playgrounds looked abandoned, since they are not very well maintained. There was only one primary school in the neighborhood. The big roads were alternated with smaller roads in which most of the houses were located. The majority of the houses surround themselves with fences, even the public playground is surrounded with a fence. In some of the streets and most of the gardens, there is a lot of garbage. You can see that this is a problem they want to solve, as there are signs stating no dumping. Despite the garbage and the lack of facilities, the neighborhood does put in effort to organize events for each other. Flyers on the lamppost promoted a stand-up comedy event for the neighborhood. Together with the community gardens and the block watch, you could see there was a sense of a community feeling.
Description of the greenery
Although Marpole area has several parks, you would expect it to be a very green suburb. The parks however are very desolate and not well maintained. They are not nice places to hang out or come together. This might be a reason why there wasn’t almost anyone around. Furthermore, the area is separated by the highway that leads from the international airport to Vancouver downtown. Around this road, the houses are built close together with small frontyards. The sidewalks are unequally paved, with a small lane of greenery between it and the streets. This green strip consists of mostly weeds, but occasionally a small community garden can be found. In many public places garbage is dumped, which completely obscures the view of the greenery. Some parts of the neighbourhood are better maintained. (Relating to Jacob’s work, this presentation of the environment inhibits the potential for encounters). There is a clear division between the richer and the poorer part of the hood. In the richer part, the houses are bigger, more expensive, well maintained and have bigger, nice-looking yards.
Considering that the population is heavily skewed towards the Chinese ethnic group, this is not the most diverse neighborhood in Vancouver. Although it’s hard to track down the reason behind this, the lack of places of encounter stood out to us when we walked through the area. In particular, there were only a few parks and playgrounds, and those were not well maintained. As this is a residential area, there was also a clear lack of cafes, restaurants and such to foster encounters. Even so, some community spirit was visible here and there, through the presence of small community gardens on the side of the pavement.
Marpole has mostly the flare of being a calm and peaceful residential area. With its large amount of single family houses it appears as a classical suburb. We observed that there were barely people walking around throughout most of the day, except near the Skytrain station. Many buses circulate through the area which shows that many commuters live in this area. Even the parks and playgrounds were mostly empty. Marpole is a rather average neighbourhood in terms of wealth. In some streets there are no sidewalks and the roads are in bad conditions. (thus it is not a perfect place of encounter) On the other hand the newly constructed apartment towers give the neighbourhood a tone of innovation. Since Marpole connects the city with the airport it has many busy roads. On the main streets the mood changes as it’s always busy with cars passing by at high speeds. It is very loud and one cannot simply walk to the other side due to the lack of crossings. Therefore, the mood of tranquility that the neighbourhood displays disappears at the main streets.
Most people living in Marpole are from the Middle to Upper Middle Class. We barely saw any homeless people. Housing prices are quite high, but not comparable to the level of Shaughnessy or Kitsilano. Residents are severely dependent on cars as many are commuters and live in single family houses. This is however contrasted with a number of tall newly constructed apartment buildings as a result of increasing housing prices, which means that families who cannot afford the high prices of single houses are increasingly moving into this area as well. The size of the single houses is also smaller in contrast to other wealthier areas. Walking in this neighbourhood we noticed that some places are a bit run-down and dirty, which entails that Marpole is not an extremely wealthy neighbourhood.
Kind of people
Marpole is not a very diverse neighbourhood, in terms of inhabitants. The demographics are surely skewed towards the Chinese ethnic group and in fact, over a third of the people living there have Mandarin or Cantonese as their mother tongue. The second largest ethnic group consists of Canadians with ancestry from Europe. It’s worth noting that this ethnic group is also the largest panethnic group within Canada. The skewness of the population towards the Chinese ethnic group can also be seen around the streets of Marpole, where numerous stores only have signs in Chinese.
The vast majority of people living in Marpole are either young adults or middle aged. Specifically, these two groups cover almost 70% of Marpole’s age spectrum. Although young adults were the majority back in 1996, currently, the number of middle-aged people has overtaken them by a significant margin. This shows that Marpole has an ageing population, with the mean age seemingly increasing over time.
Lastly, as it is also mentioned in the “Economic Status” section, owning a house in Marpole is expensive, and therefore the citizens are quite wealthy.
Conclusion: diverse in terms of economic status (rich and middle class) and surroundings (mostly sidewalks and parks are in bad conditions, while some streets are well maintained with nice buildings). Not diverse in terms of inhabitants, since almost all the people have a chinese background.
Marpole is not the most diverse place in Vancouver. Most of the people living there are from the middle/upper class, and they mostly have an Asian background. The infrastructure (eg. parks, sidewalks) is also not very well maintained, making it not as accessible for people with physical disabilities for example. The neighborhood was also quiet, without many activities being offered to the inhabitants.