All indications are that Vancouver is very much a community on the rise.
The city’s population is now over 180,000, making it the fourth largest in Washington, behind only Seattle, Spokane and Tacoma.
But we’re also uniquely situated, as Oregon’s largest city is just on the other side of the mighty Columbia River. Portland’s population is currently more than 660,000 and brings with it some serious growth-related headaches. It’s increasingly obvious that some of those problems are making their way across the border and into our own backyard.
Maybe we’ve grown used to the sights, sounds and smells of urban blight coming from our southern neighbor. Homeless camps, piles of garbage and graffiti are all visible from most of the major freeways that run through Portland.
However, what’s new is that those same things are starting to appear here in Vancouver. Our freeway exits within a few miles of the interstate bridge are changing right in front of us every day, and not for the better. Our neighborhoods are not exempt.
It’s true that many of our residents still work in Portland and make the commute over the two bridges that span the Columbia. Many Vancouverites are former Portlanders who opted for the better quality of life, better schools, more affordable housing and the family friendly atmosphere we enjoy so much here in Southwest Washington.
The fact of the matter is that we have never been a bedroom community for Portland. Enough people call Vancouver home that we deserve to maintain our own identity.
This isn’t Seattle and it isn’t Portland. Vancouver has its own history, heritage and character that is worth protecting and preserving.
We have the chance to shape our own collective destiny, instead of living in the shadows of Seattle and Portland. We have the ability to decide that we don’t want to mirror the policies adopted by the largest cities in Washington and Oregon, which have caused many of the problems they’re facing. Just because Portland has seen skyrocketing instances of violent crime doesn’t mean we will have to be stuck with the same.
At this point in time, we still have the opportunity to shape our own vision of what Vancouver can and should be. Vancouver can be the ideal place for existing and future residents to live, play and work.
I’m running for Vancouver City Council, Position 3, to help keep Vancouver the best it can be.
And, as your voice on the council, I would be proud to be part of building a stronger, more inclusive, affordable, family-friendly, people-based Vancouver with you.