Best of Vancouver 2013: Our contributors’ picks

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      This has been the year of stunning surprises.

      Roberto Luongo is back in net as the Canucks’ starting goaltender under coach John Tortorella. Christy Clark has returned to the premier’s office. And Point Grey Road is going to be restricted to one-way traffic as part of the new $6-million Seaside Greenway and York Bikeway.

      For most Vancouver residents, all of this was as inconceivable as Luongo and Clark riding a bicycle built for two when we published our last Best of Vancouver issue in September 2012. But their enduring presence shows that anything is possible in Vancouver in 2013.

      Consider some other unlikely developments. Lower Mainland parks became filled with music like never before. Major concerts took place not only in Stanley Park and David Lam Park, but in Ambleside Park in West Vancouver and Holland Park in Surrey. Who could have imagined that Mumford & Sons would be rockin’ Surrey Centre? Or that Whalley, along with the Downtown Eastside, would become one of the hottest real-estate plays in the region?

      It was perhaps the most glorious summer in Vancouver in recent memory, with barely a drop of rain from June through the end of August. Thankfully, we avoided the torrential storms that afflicted Alberta, Colorado, and Toronto. Chalk that up as something to celebrate in a world increasingly destabilized by climate change. It truly was the Best of Vancouver, weatherwise.

      Local media outlets may have fallen on hard times, but one thing remains constant: Vancouver residents have an endless appetite for hearing about what makes their city exceptional. They also love to vote year after year for their favourites.

      Our 18th annual Best of Vancouver edition brings you the readers’ choices in 262 categories, which are sprinkled throughout the newspaper in boxes. Topics range from food and drink to lifestyle to travel and health, and even encompass people’s favourite broadcasters, festivals, and music and arts venues. The winners’ names appear in bold, followed by the two runners-up, with ties declared in a few categories.

      It provides a useful snapshot of Lower Mainland residents’ preferences at this point in time. Some of the winners are perennial favourites, but there were also several newcomers to the top spot. Yes, we’re talking about you, CBC broadcaster Stephen Quinn. Congratulations—you just won your first election.

      Supplementing the readers’ choices are the writers’ pithy selections, which are always heartfelt, even if they sometimes come with a touch of sarcasm or irony. Following those are columns celebrating some of the best in health, fashion, design, video games, sports, the outdoors, literature, food, and drink.

      Capping it all off are the Best of the Bands images and interviews, which kick off the music section. Nowhere else will you see so many local indie bands doing so many shit-crazy stunts. Unless, of course, you attend the annual Victory Square Block Party, which has to qualify as the best of something.

      We’ll let you in on a secret. It’s an absolute nightmare for music editor Mike Usinger to figure out how to get so many musicians in one location at the same time for the photographs in Best of the Bands. So humour him and don’t put down the paper before you get to that section. You won’t be sorry.

      If you hunt through this issue, you’ll also discover how to win one of the best three-night getaway vacations in B.C. The luxurious holiday for two at Vernon’s Sparkling Hill Resort is valued at $2,200 and comes with a deluxe room, daily hot buffet breakfasts and three-course dinners at PeakFine Restaurant, two $250 vouchers for KurSpa, and free parking and Wi-Fi.

      And if you disagree with any of the writers’ choices in our Best of Vancouver issue, you can make your opinions known at After all, we’re still living in a democracy, even if it doesn’t seem like it to those who are outraged about bike lanes being rammed into their neighbourhoods without their consent.