Red Deer and Victoria- the differences

It’s not even a well-worn cliche (more like worn out) to say, that change occurs whether we want it or not. Just a couple of years ago, people were worried about the Tea Party and Al Queda. These days, ISIS and Donald Trump make them seem like mere mosquito bites by comparison. Since moving to Victoria three months ago, I’ve noticed a few changes:
In RD, public transit is slow, infrequent, and a social embarrassment for those who use it. Students can’t wait until they have enough money to buy their own car. In Vic, B C Transit has a website that allows you to plan trips. On a recent trip to UVic, many students actually thanked the driver as they disembarked. During exam week, no less.
When there’s a near-collision between shopping carts in the local grocery store, both cart drivers apologize. So I know there people in Victoria are definitely Canadians.
In RD, when young couples think of having kids, they usually buy a monster SUV or pickup. In Vic, it’s more likely to be a bike with a kiddie trailer.
RD has never tried or even pretended to be hip. In Victoria, there’s a serious discussion about whether or not the city is hip. Apparently, somewhere, you can buy craft beer from a guy with a civil war beard for $15. One wag at the Times Colonist (“The Newsroom That Time Forgot “) commented that in Victoria, the word “hip” is usually followed by the word “replacement”.
While in Vic, there might be a few more seniors dressed embarrassing like twenty year olds, the same demographics (trophy wives, office workers, hipsters, hippies, young parents, tradesmen in camouflage jackets) as RD. But a sizable number of them ride bikes. And unlike RD, where people seemingly select bikes for their status – clunky cheap overbuilt mountain bikes from Canadian Tire which are too heavy to ride uphill, over the top cruisers with balloon tires and handlebar streamers, or kids’ stunt bikes. In Vic, people are way more likely to ride street bikes with skinny tires and saddlebags. Some serious cycle commuters in this town. And pedestrians aren’t surprised when cyclists ring their bells. They just move over.
In RD, I would occasionally have the experience of realizing that every vehicle near me was a pickup truck. In Vic, more likely to be sports cars made in Germany.
In Vic, it’s simply impossible to use the phrase “senior citizen” as a term of abuse. In RD,seniors congregate in Tim Hortons to complain about the NDP, snow removal, or hockey. Yesterday, I was at a Starbucks that was packed with seniors. One group was having an animated discussion about “gender identification “.
In RD, a snow shovel is almost as important to human survival and health as water and oxygen. It’s one thing to borrow a neighbor’s quad or snowmobile, but borrowing his snow shovel announces to the entire world that you’re loser. So I was a bit nervous about leaving my snow shovel behind in RD. The first time I opened my storage locker in Victoria, I was amazed to find a snow shovel inside. A neighbor who saw quickly grabbed it, saying it shouldn’t even be there. Come to think of it, city council should have banned snow shovels long ago. But I still miss that snow shovel.
In RD,there’s over forty oilfield service companies within 10 km of where we lived. In Vic, zero, but thirteen marijuana dispensaries within the same radius. Now, I’m not saying that hemp oil will fuel your pickup truck someday, but the tar sands might be even worse for Canada’s international reputation than the seal cull or asbestos exports. And marijuana might improve tourism. I’m just sayin’.
Having sold our house in RD and helped my stepson and his girlfriend to buy in Vic, the real estate market is definitely different. In RD, you always bid ten to forty thousand below the asking price. And buyers are happy to allow conditIonal offers. Our realtor told us that prices had dropped 28% in RD. In Vic, you always arrive at an open house with a certified cheque in hand for the deposit. typically, they look at offers the day after open house – and don’t even think writing in conditions. And even if you bid $150,000 over the asking price,you still might be beaten. In Metchosen, where Catherine and I lived, one guy bought a house in 2012 for five million. He’s listed it at 29 million now. The other day, Catherine saw a listing for a knock-down house at $970,000. So you’re buying just the lot for a million bucks. Last year, prices rose by 12% in Victoria. Not as high as the Fraser Valley (28%) so there’s still lots of room for prices in Victoria to soar.

A former RDC student, now studying law at UVic told me he’s attended Canada Day celebrations in both Victoria and RD. In RD, many people left their garbage behind when they left. In Victoria, people took extra bags to pick up after other people.
When I told people I lived in RD, they typically reply “I drove by there once. We stopped at the Tim Hortons on Gasoline Alley.” When I tell people we’ve moved to Vic, they want to stay in our guest bedroom. Forever.
In RD, dogwalkers usually have a cup of Timmies in their hands. In Vic, Moka House or Starbucks. I haven’t even seen a Tim Hortons yet.
In Vic, strangers are likely to say “Excuse me, but the glass doesn’t go in that bin. Thank you.” In RD strangers are more likely to say “Get your f@&$ing bike off the road!” So weird. It’s almost like I’m living in another province or something.



  1. Hey Guillermo,

    I’m trying to reconnect but I can’t find a new email for Victoria. You were always good to me and I have lots of good news. I’m jealous I lived in Victoria briefly such a great place. Hope this finds you well. Hope to talk soon

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