Homeless in Vancouver: Traffic this way, clouds that way, and planes too!

In the above photo, we can see more clouds than cars, but this is 4 p.m, the start of rush hour—I’ve just caught it during a lull.

Above the east- and west-bound traffic on West Broadway Avenue—way above—we can see a north-bound cloud bank steaming through at a fair clip.

What we can’t see are the passenger jets.

Day and night commercial airline pilots flying into and out of Vancouver use West Broadway Avenue as a sight line. If you’re situated on West Broadway at Granville Street and you follow their flight westward you’ll see the big jets eventually peel off south, probably following Alma/Dunbar Street straight to the Vancouver International Airport located on Sea Island in Richmond.

I guess it’s always rush hour up there

A big passenger jet flying east over West Broadway on a recent clear afternoon.
Stanley Q. Woodvine

I’ve been watching the big planes flying east and west over West Broadway for some time, but just a few months ago, out of the blue a panhandler outside of the Broadway and Granville McDonald’s—one of the so-called “blanket brothers”—pointed out the blinking lights of an eastbound passenger jet one night and started explaining how the pilots followed West Broadway.

No surprise a panhandler would know this—the good ones are professional conversationalists—and I know there are flight attendants living in Fairview; there must be some airline pilots calling the neighbourhood home.

And if they didn’t pick it up panhandling there are always books—those two brothers are voracious readers.

I don’t think the airliners have a rush hour; they seem pretty consistent through the day, more like bus service but with a lot less stops.

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