Archive for February, 2007

So, what are you doing?

February 18, 2007

I sincerely want to know.

My site tracker tells me that there are people who spend time reading this website even though almost nobody leaves comments. I don’t mind that at all, but for this one, I’d really like to hear what you have to say.

Climate change, drug addiction, over-burdened health care system, affordable housing, …

These have each been hot topics lately. Lots of time has been spent discussing them in the media, among strangers on the sidewalks, between friends at the pub or in your living room.

There is surprise at the scale of the problems. Blame is assigned. Obvious yet epiphanic solutions offered. Resignation to the unmovable realities.

I have been hearing a lot about what laws and regulations government should be putting in place to force us to do the things we already know we should be doing. I find this curious.

If I know the solution to a problem and I choose not to act on that knowledge, is it fair to blame government for not forcing me to do it? Is it reasonable to refuse until everyone else does it too?

Communities, societies, governments, corporations are all simply collections of individuals. Together, the choices these individuals make each contribute to form a shared purpose, action, consciousness.

So, on the consequences of those collective choices, my question to you is, what choices are you making to contribute to moving toward a vision of a safe, clean, healthy community? As you’ve read or heard more about these issues, what choices have you made? What are you doing different?

I’d really like to know.

but I read it in the newspaper …

February 6, 2007

Everyone knows that the newspaper can’t possibly give the whole story on an issue, but yet so many people react as though they have all the facts because they read about it in the Peace Arch News.

Myth: The tallest building approved for the Town Centre is 23 stories.
Despite this persistent popular myth, the building is 21 stories. That’s a simple fact. If you don’t believe me, go to City Hall, ask to see the building plans and count the floors yourself.

Just because a promotional illustration from very early in the design stage appeared to have 23 floors if you counted the windows doesn’t mean that is what is being built. What matters — what is accurate — is the plans approved by the City, not the promotional concept drawing. I’m certain that if the developer had anticipated the hassles of a clutch of conspiracy theorists nitpicking over the number of windows on a conceptual drawing, they would have had the artist redo it.

Myth: The mayor tried to stick the City with a $35,000 bill for the bears.
The mayor did not try to get the City to pay for the bears. She made a clumsy error of protocol and procedure. She did not break any rules or laws. She made an error. She feels dumb, apologized and fixed it without spending a penny of City money. Let’s move on, already. It’s long past time to get over it.

Myth: The City had to appoint a committee to figure out what to do with the bears.
A Public Art Committee was already needed to deal with a completely different donation of public art. It is actually more expensive and proposed for a more prominent location than any of the bears. But the way it sounds in the news is that the committee had to be set up just to deal with Judy’s bears. It does make the story more interesting, unfortunately it’s not true.

Ottawa: wash your hands and get to work

February 2, 2007

Last May I wrote a post titled responsibility. I wondered why some people choose to get angry at others when it becomes apparent that they themselves had erred or was seen to be unaware of something. There is no better example of this than the political acrobatic feats being performed in Ottawa. Incredible efforts have been invested in avoiding responsibility for Canada’s air pollution.

Earlier this week I wrote about the economic myopia of the current debate. Partisan mud slinging has been effective at making everyone look dumb and ineffective. But in wasting so much time and energy attempting to force “the other guy” to admit to having made mistakes or not trying hard enough, mistakes are being made and nothing meaningful is getting done. So, whether they accept it or not, they are each responsible for the Government’s inaction.

Where is the leadership on this issue? Accepting responsibility is essential to leadership. Leadership cannot be taken without accepting responsibility.

What Harper’s caucus seems to unwilling to understand is that there is only one Government of Canada. Over the history of our country, different political parties have held the majority of parliament, but each has been engaged in the same institution – the Government of Canada. In order to break out of this counter-productive finger-pointing game, Canada must accept responsibility for its choices and actions.

To all those with mud on their hands: get over yourself. Stop trying to assign blame for the past. We need to work together on this one. Discuss the issues without mentioning any political party. Talk about ideas without staking ownership. Let’s figure out what we want for the future and what each of us is willing to contribute.

waterfront parks, not parking lots

February 1, 2007

Why do cars take up some of the best spots on the beach?

Imagine what an incredible place White Rock’s waterfront would be if those acres of asphalt were grass fields, meadows, bicycle and rollerblading lanes, picnic tables,… imagine it were a place for people instead of cars.

We need a transportation solution that brings people to and from the beach without their cars.

Some people say the commercial district would shrivel up without an abundance of parking right outside their door. I don’t believe them.

Some of the best, most vibrant places in other local cities are not set up like strip malls in a lake of asphalt… Steveston, Robson Street, Kits, even big box stores are starting to get it. When you visit any of these places, you know it’s not realistic to expect to park right outside the door of your destination. But you go anyway and then walk.

Is what we offer in White Rock of such weak value that people would be unwilling to do the same? Any reasonable person would agree not. Even now, people visiting the beach are already parking a distance from their intended destination then walking.

What I think is unfortunate is that we have them walking through/past a vast, never-ending parking lot along their way. This eyesore should be somewhere else. It is a tragic waste of incredible potential for a beautiful park worthy of its setting and fantastic spaces for recreation and leisure.

I don’t know what the answer is, but I suspect we could all agree that what we have now isn’t working. There are options. I think we should look at them without getting defensive or dismissing them without consideration. Sometimes by looking into a bad idea you can find a good idea behind it.

Let’s work toward a more clean, green, pleasant, and safer waterfront.