Progress and Nostalgia, an Uneasy Mix

Last week, British Columbia’s lower mainland enjoyed an unusually warm, sunny week. I used the opportunity to walk through my neighborhood and a little way beyond. I live in Port Moody, a city of just over, 33,500 people, one that’s rapidly growing. We’re about about a half-hour drive east of Vancouver, faster if the many traffic lights work in my favor, and share borders with Burnaby and Coquitlam. I’ve lived in this beautiful, mountainous area at the end of Burrard Inlet for over thirty years, and I’ve seen some changes. But when Vancouver’s SkyTrain, our above ground, light rail transit system came to Port Moody four-and-half years ago, things began to change. They’re now changing at a head-spinning rate.

I live in a 40+ year old home a quiet residential street, a 7-minute walk from the local SkyTrain station. So, I guess it’s no surprise that there are four major developments under construction within five minutes of my house. I don’t oppose the six-story rental units because people need them, but as you’ll see below there are also concrete condo towers being crammed onto fairly small lots.

There’s another tower being built behind one of them

These changes and COVID isolation have made me nostalgic for the past lately. So, I thought I’d share some of the structures that represent fond and/or poignant memories. All of these locations are within walking distance of my home. The photo below is a small part of the recreation center where I facilitated writing workshops until last October. It’s also where I brought my kids when they were toddlers to their first play sessions. I miss facilitating.

A newer, larger part of the complex is to the right

Right next door and sharing the parking lot, is Port Moody’s city hall and library, where I’ve done readings, attended launches, presented workshops, and launched one of my own books. I remember when this structure was built. Until COVID, it was bursting at the seams as more people come to our city. I haven’t stepped in the library for over a year.

So many fond memories of the library, on the left side of this building.

The lovely building below is actually a seniors’ retirement home, but the top floor is the hospice where my mom spent the last month of her life. I remember the kindness of the staff and the inviting atmosphere of the lounge, where the larger windows face out onto the street. As you can see, there are plenty of trees around. Mom loved looking at the trees through the window in the room she rarely left.

The lounge winds and building entrance are behind the blossoming tree.

Last but not least, is my friend Julie’s former townhouse complex before she moved to the BC interior. I remember many great critiquing sessions with talented, inspiring colleagues. Julie’s now lives much closer to her family and has certainly enriched the writing community in her area. I know she reads this blog, so shout-out to Julie! See how much the trees have grown around your townhouse?

Port Moody loves its trees!

As you have gathered, I have mixed feelings about my area and about the prospect of leaving it in a couple of years time. We will be moving to a quieter part of the lower mainland, not yet invaded by progress on this scale.

I write about Port Moody in some of my books. In 2008, I published a mystery called Fatal Encryption which depicted scenes of my city. The final confrontation between villain and hero takes place in an empty parking lot at Rocky Point Park (a much-loved landmark) during a stormy November night. By the time the book was published, half of the parking lot had been replaced by a restaurant. Maybe I’ll try to incorporate more scenes of Port Moody in my work as it is now, because tomorrow will look quite different, and one day I fear I won’t recognize it.

Author: debrapurdykong

I'm a British Columbia author who's been writing for over 30 years. My volunteer experiences, criminology diploma, and security work inspired me to write the Casey Holland transit security novels set in Metro Vancouver. I'm also a part-time facilitator in Creative Writing Workshops through Port Moody's Recreation program. Feel free to contact me at

17 thoughts on “Progress and Nostalgia, an Uneasy Mix”

  1. You know, Debra, I made the decision to flee Port Moody last year after living and working there for over twenty years. I still visit and held my book launch at the mystical protected salmon hatchery. I also spent hours and hours at the library and my books are still there in the White Pines Collection. I feel blessed by that. I wrote those books while walking the Inlet Trail and musing at Buntzen Lake. There are some beautiful aspects to Port Moody but unfortunately the spiking development is ruining what was once a sweet treasure of a town. I haven’t looked back though it saddens me to see this happening.

    I feel, in your words, the energy of leaving too. It’s tragic when old time residents must leave their home communities because of greed and near-sighted developers. I will say, I’ve been told I’m much more relaxed and productive since I left. Living on the main thoroughfare between two skytrain stations sharpened my edges. It’s not just buildings and cash that make a city, it’s its people.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not sure if my first comment, got through, but thanks Wendy. It was somewhat depressing to post this blog and brought tears to my eyes as I prepared. it.


  2. Debra, a fascinating post about your locality and I can see it holds many dear memories for you. The library looks beautiful and it is hard not to have been there for a year. My last visit to the local library was to pick up testing kits! It is sad how much has changed this past year. A great idea about incorporating the town in your writing before it changes too much, your love for the area shines through!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Annika. It is sad, but I’m also feeling quite optimistic for the fall. People are embracing vaccinations in our area, and as long as our government keeps the supplies coming in, we should be able to gather again in the fall. Fingers crossed!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Unfortunately, we can´t stop progress. I have always thought Port Moody was a very nice community in the lower mainland. Another friend of mine has put her house up for sale in Port Coquitlam with plans to move to Vancouver Island to be closer to her son and grandchildren. I love that you include local places in your books.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Darlene. Port Coquitlam is also changing and becoming busier and more expensive, so I understand your friend’s decision. I’ll always include local descriptions in my books because my environment inspires me and is a part of me. 🙂

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    1. Interesting, Jacqui. It will be interesting to see what you find. For me it’s easy, because my daughter and son-in-law live in a much quieter area of the lower mainland without SkyTrains, so I’ll be heading there. Haven’t found a house yet but we’re looking.

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      1. Oddly, both of my 30 something kids want a quieter lifestyle than where they currently are. I am waiting to see where they land. It’s a good plan–going where our kids are–innit?

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  4. As an Alberta transplant, I suppose we added to the growth on Vancouver Island, but I’m glad we made the move. Hubby and I were born and raised in our small town and lived there most of our lives. We came to the island when our daughter started university, and now she’s gone to Newfoundland! lol.
    There’s been a lot of growth here, since we arrived, but the city is careful (so far) to keep the natural beauty as a main focal point.
    I hope you find a nice place to settle into, whenever you’re ready.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Jacquie. Yes, if growth is done carefully, it’s fine, but our city council members are fighting with one another with respect to how much is too much. Also, no provision has been made for the extra traffic, which is already horrific in Port Moody, as our main thoroughfare is a popular route to many communities east of us.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. The same kind of thing started happening in the U.S. in the 1990’s… when I drove from Florida to Colorado in 2001, I totally did not recognize the landscape,,,almost neve left “civilization”… I feel for you…and Canada!

    Liked by 1 person

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