I have lived in Calgary, Alberta and in Vancouver, British Columbia. Recently, a trip to Calgary caused me to reflect on the differences between the two cities. I love both cities for different reasons. I flew into Calgary on the morning after a blizzard that had left a thin layer of snow on everything and patches of ice in the turn lanes of the roads. I was quickly reminded of how many times I was rear-ended by drivers who did not leave enough stopping distance in front of them during my time in Calgary. I put on my winter-defensive-driving skills and headed for the city.
One of the first cars I pulled up behind at a red light had a bumper sticker that read, “Warning, the occupant of this vehicle may be armed.” Welcome to Calgary! The other thing I noticed was how far it is between Starbucks. I had to drive several blocks before I saw one.
One thing I love about Calgary is the fact that drivers do obey the speed limits. When I lived in Calgary I did not appreciate the constant presence of photo-radar. Now coming back to the city I saw that it actually works. In Vancouver, I have often wondered why we have speed limits that are never enforced. The construction zone along Highway 1 is set at 80 km/hr within Vancouver but if you travel at less than 95 you are liable to have people honking their horns at you. In Calgary, John Laurie Boulevard is set at 70 km/hr and it could be argued that much higher speeds would be safe as well. It is two lanes of straight, unobstructed roadway and all of the drivers were travelling at 70 km/hr. It was quite refreshing. Vancouver, also has very few playground and school zones where the limits are set at 30km/hr. I had to remind myself to watch for these in Calgary.
On the whole, Calgary is quite a law-abiding city. I went the whole day in Calgary without smelling the pungent aroma of someone smoking pot.
Calgary also has very clean streets. Vancouver streets often have a layer of trash and litter that swirls around in the wind and gets soggy in the rain. Calgary, on the other hand, has very little litter. When I say clean, I mean clean except for the sand, gravel, grit, and general dust of a dry, snowy, wintry city. And that is probably the main reason why people choose living in Vancouver over Calgary. You just don’t have to deal with winter.