It’s always interesting to return home after a spell away. You see things with new eyes, with a keener sense of appreciation for the things we have.
After a few weeks in Victoria last month, a vacation of sorts, I can say Kamloops has it beat. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the key ways Kamloops gets it right and offers us a better quality of life than most other places in B.C., including our provincial capital:
* Friendly people. In Victoria, you’d think people have been told deadly viruses are passed by eye contact and saying hello.
It’s jarring to walk a street full of people and feel completely alone. Not in Kamloops. Our city’s inherent friendliness is an amazingly worthwhile thing.
* Traffic. Yes, we have it, but not to the extent that Victoria does. We wait a few minutes here and there for the lights to change but trust me, it’s nothing compared to the “Colwood crawl,” as residents there call it.
I was staying at Royal Roads University, which is in Colwood about 30 minutes from downtown Victoria, and the traffic along Sooke Drive every morning and night chokes to a stop-and-go halt.
As in other major centres in the Lower Mainland, it seems people can afford to work in Victoria only by living far from their offices.
They must commute daily from suburbs and small outlying centres like Colwood, Sooke, Duncan and Sydney.
Residents say what should be a 20-minute drive easily becomes a 60-minute trip in the peak of rush hour. It’s hard to imagine how people accept losing two hours a day behind the wheel of a car. I am 12 minutes from my doorstep to work and on some days even that’s made me impatient. I won’t complain anymore.
Even when it is not rush hour, though, traffic is heavy in Victoria, it seems.
It’s unnerving to have to pay close attention to one’s driving at 7 a.m. on a Sunday morning.
* Infrastructure. I’m grateful our leaders have stayed on top of the services that serve us, including water and sewage systems.
In Victoria, they continue to pump essentially raw sewage into the ocean untreated, seemingly convinced it is OK to do so because the currents carry the pollution away. It’s shameful.
During Victoria’s recent federal byelection (won by the NDP), debate about whether to build a sewage treatment plant raged. It’s depressing that in the provincial capital, such a debate is even on the table.
Thankfully, we’re already doing better.
* Weather. Yes, we even have Victoria beat for weather, in my humble opinion. OK, winters in Victoria are milder but the warmer temperatures simply means more of the water that falls from the sky — and there is much of it — stays liquid, which means it’s wet, a lot of the time.
There are two seasons in Victoria and my recent stay was clearly on the cusp of the rainy one. Perhaps it’s conditioning but in November and December, I prefer snow.
We have seasons in Kamloops, with cold winters and hot summers and all the right degrees of separation between. We’re the clear winner.
So there you have it, a quick list showing how Kamloops trumps Victoria.
I’m not saying Kamloops is perfect. We have our troubles, too, but generally, I can say with honesty, it feels good to call it home.