Opinion

BURGESS

Smoky Vancouver

By Steve Burgess

(iStock/Getty Images Plus)

(iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Look at you Vancouver, going all retro. Suddenly every restaurant in town has a smoking section. In fact the whole city looks like one big 1950s cocktail party or a giant episode of Mad Men thanks to drifting smoke from wildfires around the province. While it is true that we like to boast about being close to trees and nature, this isn't the kind of thing we usually what we have in mind. Right now Vancouver is hazier than Keith Richards' recollections of the 1960s.

The smoky pall is certainly impacting our reputation as an outdoor playground. Pretty soon jogging supply stores will have to start stocking flashlights and oxygen tanks. Local tour guides will have to describe the North Shore mountains from memory. If the smoke doesn't dissipate soon, those Hop-On-Hop-Off sightseeing buses will have to start showing movies. At least tourists watching Deadpool will get to see some of the local landscape. Meanwhile each night the blood red moon rises in the smoky sky as an ominous portent of doom, and that can't be great for tourism either. Nor has the heat wave helped matters. I always thought being smokin' hot would be more fun than this.

There have been heroic figures in this fire season—the firefighters tackling the blazes, and the people who support them. Now BC has a new anti-hero too. It's the guy who celebrated his return to Williams Lake after the evacuation by setting off fireworks. Cops found the 34-year-old man with the spent fireworks—yes, he was drunk—after neighbours complained. This is the kind of guy who would bring pink chicken and hot potato salad to a potluck. He's the kind of guy who would show up uninvited at your sister's wedding and start arguing about religion. This guy may require a whole new category of Darwin Award, for people who don't actually succeed in killing themselves but do end up getting pummelled to death by their neighbours.

It is hard to pin any one particular event on climate change, but there are warnings that summers like this could become the new normal. Not a pleasant thought. As for this year, hang in there. Rain will return someday. Things will get better. Or if they don't, people will eventually get tired of posting their “smoky sunset” pictures on Instagram. That will be some relief at least.