All residents of Maple Ridge are welcome to attend.
Monday, October 31, 2005
All residents of Maple Ridge are welcome to attend.
Monday, October 24, 2005
Before any objection is uttered
The lights off from behind the counter
And hollers last call;
That’s all boys.
Stumble into the main bar, straining
Into the smoky old night;
Looking for some stray while finishing
Saturday night’s last pint.
Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye.
And sleep well.
This most comfortable Kalk Bay hour.
Here, now, is a moment not shared by the
Few who would sooner stab you to death
Than humiliate you.
Safe? Me? Oh yes.
But the humiliation is as long-lasting
A knife in the back would put an end
To that humiliation.
What a pity, no knife.
Life carries him, you, I, some of us –
On in pain.
Through beer-bleary eyes I see a boat alongside the quay.
Through gossip-deafened ears I hear a night-dark voice.
Kom jy saam? I make no reply.
Are you coming with?
Sorry Hosein. In the half-light
I though you were white.
We roll out towards a patchwork black-grey sea.
From out of the soft-deep dark the lights can be seen
From Bailey’s Cottage to Glen Cairn and Simonstown.
Yet to the crews aboard Colleen, White Rose,
Ang-Jerry, Ivy Doreen, The Star of the Sea,
Tajmahal and KB Fourteen, all is dark.
These souls simply feel each other’s presence
through the sea below
That manages, somehow, to communicate a way of life.
Sammy, Baba, German, Langa and Shaka
are in unison with this day
As their souls, mostly unconscious,
rise with the sun.
The staccato flash of a rising fish turning in the depths;
Coiling round and up and up, to the stern face of his captor.
Shaka smiles with his blood-shot eyes –
The young snoek cracks into the stillness of the boat.
Oom Janie asks the skipper. Where is the Lucky Star?
Ag man, hulle slaap.
The whole world does.
At dawn, at sea
The very universe, it seems,
Is locked in sleep.
Edited October 24 2005
Originally published in 1974.
Saturday, October 22, 2005
"The only real power that councils have [in British Columbia] is landuse."
Vancouver Sun, Saturday, October 23, 2005.
Local politics anywhere in the world tend to reflect the larger world beyond. As a species we have moved quietly from hunter-gatherers to agrarians, traders and then industrialist consumers to this point now of informationalism.
Language and thought has enabled our species to differentiate between physical things and abstractions. We have defined humankind as being believers or non-believers, warlike or peaceful, unkind or kind, educated or uneducated, prosperous or poor, superior or inferior, valuable or worthless, fearless or fearful, helpful or helpless, productive or non-productive, giving or receiving, compassionate or uncaring.
Over history we have organized our communities, not always by design or intention, into groups. We have discovered as we did so that groups could not function without leaders; leaders who were entrusted with the primary responsibility of eliciting consensus from their groups. In time groups grew in number and as larger communities found it necessary to share physical and intellectual wealth. And here we are; planet earth 2005.
Most men and women will agree that we live in a complex place, where nature and our influence on nature and our neighbours make life no simpler. At some point a philosopher or early thinker must have caught sight of himself reflected in a river or lake and noticed for the first time the binary nature of nature. He would have been struck by the fact that he had a left side and a right side; on the left a hand, on the right a hand, on the left a leg, on the right a leg. The first nuance in the democratic process had been laid.
Thousands of years later we are so conditioned to the left and right that no community exists that is not defined thus. We have named them Republican and Democrats, Tories and Labour, Conservatives and Liberals, Capitalists and Communists, or Socialists. We have also, perhaps with excessive facility, come to associate right and left with characteristics by which we define them. We are seemingly inclined to believe that the characteristics of the left are uniquely left and not transferable to the right. Nor for that matter do the characteristics of the right seem transferable to the left.
From time to time ‘middle of the road’ politicians will emerge with centrist policies designed to appease and appeal to voters on the right and left. Seen by supporters of the left and the right as a tepid philosophy, middle of the road or popularist political innovations are generally short-lived, overcome eventually by either followers of the left or the right. A natural tension exists between left and right. And nature insures that neither side is ever allowed to dominate too long; thus nature itself becomes the ultimate middle of the road political force, swinging as it were from one side to the other, in a very measured way.
When the citizens of countries, or the electorate of provinces and states or, as is the case of Maple Ridge, British Columbia, the residents of a small Canadian town, go to the polls, they are essentially electing men and women who are regarded as being left or right or, perhaps middle of the road. One frequently hears the word ‘balanced’ when it comes to middle of the road politicians, an adjective which appears to elevate them to some snooty plateau from which they can look down on the unbalanced left or right candidates. The trouble with being balanced is that voters, rather than viewing balance as an asset, quite often interpret it as being tentative, unsure and wishy-washy. Consensus seeking, as a result, has pitfalls of its own.
A fully functioning and effective council with a consensus-seeking mayor is all the voters ask for. Council, almost like physicians, can provide cures and preventions for all the ills that may befall a community.
It is probably just as hard to look down the road ahead and spot those issues that can be prevented as it is to provide cures for those issues that previous council failed to prevent. Maple Ridge needs preventative measures as much as it does cures.
Vote for candidates who are likely to prevent: traffic congestion by promoting public transit; the proliferation of violent and drug-related crime; the degradation of air and water quality; the loss of agricultural, rural and natural land.
Vote for candidates who can find a cure for: affordable housing; homelessness; Sports-fields; local employment; care for seniors; better parks; forthright public consultation; and an effective and responsible Official Community Plan.
Vote for candidates who: recognize that local shopping opportunities are not the only solution to economic development.
In all of this: take to heart the fact that once you have public safety in the streets you have the basis for a healthy and successful community.
And focus on youth: today’s skateboarder is tomorrow’s leader.
Friday, October 21, 2005
In the end the residents of Maple Ridge got so fed up with car thieves and drug dealers speeding through town and endangering the innocent that they took things into their own hands.
And tired of studies, petitions and delegations to the Mayor and Council they began pondering solutions to rid the town of train whistles.
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
As November 19 looms the criteria by which candidates are chosen should include the maturity factor. This would reduce significantly the number of incumbents and challengers, making it simple for voters to make mature choices. Maturity as demonstrated by the young Michael Hall is not exclusively determined by age. So voting for older statesmen or women candidates will not guarantee mature decision-making from our next council.
It is years since I voted in an election based on the candidates stated views on a particular issue. This is because a candidate's ability to make good on what he or she promises is severely limited by what others may want council member or mayor to do once they are in office; and more often than not a candidate's well-meant intentions become pipedreams once nature and fate show up during the 3-year tenure. Words, effective tools that they are, can be misleading during an election campaign.
Words can also be impressive; after all that is one of the roles of language, to impress [usually upon others]. Yet, impressive as they are, they are no match for action. What a person does for a living may therefore be a more reliable indication of what one can expect from candidates once elected, rather than what they are prepared to say in order to impress voters of their competency through the use of the spoken or written word. There are more novel ways to select a hopeful citizen to high office.
Looks can be a fun way to vote, but really cruel for the candidates who don't make it. Furthermore there is every chance that the candidates who do make it will have even greater difficulty fitting their Sunday bonnets over their heads if they know they have been elected on physical appeal alone. Voting by weight could be fun.
We could hold the election much in the same way they used to hold public hangings. The electorate could gather in the town square for a weigh-in. Would we vote for the heaviest or the lightest candidates? I'll need to think that one through. Would there be a men's division and a women's division? Not much point really; men and women have always been divided.
The distressing issue for voters is that they are desperate to vote for something that either smacks of novelty or flat-out compliments their own backyard. The alternative is to vote for the usual tired old list of issues or at the very least vote against issues that may disrupt their backyard. It seems that the only reliable science a voter can apply is to study what the candidates do for a living and go from there.
Peter Barnes: Security guard; former senior correctional officer. He will protect us we presume.
Simon Challenger: Water distribution system operator. He will insure we do not go short of fresh, clean water, no dirty aquifers up at Thornhill, or muddy waters flowing into our creeks off worksites in Silver Valley.
Mike Davies: Emergency co-ordinator. He will be good when the BIG ONE does finally hit, or when the Albion Flats disappear under the Fraser River.
Ernie Daykin: Building administrator. Administrators always come in handy when it comes to advising other administrators.
Tyler Ducharme: Program co-ordinator. From time to time the Administrators need to be coordinated (or would that be co-ordinated?) with emergency services and water distribution operators (if in doubt take a look at the Hurricane Katrina debacle).
Judy Dueck: Occupational health/safety consultant. Being elected to council or mayor may result in the need for consultation with an occupational health and safety consultant.
Candace Gordon: Community kitchen coordinator (note the omission of the hyphen in co-ordinator whereas other candidates choose the hyphen. Grammatist voters will be on the look out for discrepancies such as this). We will always be assured of food if we re-elect (is that reelect?) the community kitchen councilor.
Jon Harris: Notary public (could he be a public notary perhaps? - the NEWS has him as 'notary public'.) This notably public public notary will see to it that no further illegal documents are signed up at the hall.
Al Hogarth: Realtor. No point in building them if can't sell them.
Faye Isaac: Safeway Cashier/Customer Service. More food for thought. More thought. Better customer service for the community.
Linda King: Teacher/counselor. Nice to see at least one counselor running. Someone who listens then counsels.
Joe McCamley: Electrical contractor and former assistant to MLA Bill Hartley. Please sir, can we have electricity in Maple Ridge. The kind that we use to light up the streets with proper lighting that prevents the elderly from getting killed at pedestrian crossings, and cars and motorbikes from crashing all over the half-lit streets (stolen or legitimately driven). Not too bright though, we don't want to wake up the homeless, snugly tucked up on our neglected inner city lots.
Graham Mowatt: Albion ferry captain; president, Conservative electoral district association. Finally we have a candidate who understands essential transport, in a conservative sort of way.
Dan Olson: Travel consultant. Finally, we have a candidate who understands fun transport.
Robert Prince: Publisher. Communicators are what some people would call an "essential service" when it comes to being a councilor.
Jaques Richard: Internet marketing; former policeman and underwriter. He will help put Maple Ridge on the map with his marketing skills while protecting us from the drug lords of Maple Ridge and just to be safe will underwrite all our homes and belongings - multi-tasking is an important skill for any candidate.
Chum Richardson: Retired; director Fraser Information Society. Information is the cornerstone of all civic management.
Lorne Riding: Property manager, semi-retired. The District of Maple Ridge has a lot of property to manage and needs all the help it can get in this department.
Mike Sands: Registered nurse, Riverview Hospital. This candidate has skills which have always been lacking on council. If elected he should consider running for mayor next time around as he is uniquely qualified to manage council.
Craig Speirs: B.C Liquor Distribution Branch employee. Another distributor of liquid; clearly Canadian, this candidate may form a coalition with the Water distribution system operator and dilute the opposition.
Ken Stewart: 'Occupation' in the NEWS is noted, rather oddly we thought as, 'former Maple Ridge MLA, councilor. Elder statesman? Getting-on-with-his-career statesman? Perhaps just statesman?
Incumbent mayors and challengers come with a different set of rules, driven as it were by the desire to lead.
Who shall lead Maple Ridge for the next 3 years? The 'who' becomes really, really important when one considers the '3 years' part of the equation. Yup, 3 years, so think carefully about these leaders before making that mark.
Kathy Morse: Auntypreneur. Bill Hartley: Entrepreneur artiste. Gordon Robson: Entrepreneur extraordinaire. William Perry: Entrepreneur extreme.
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Official Community Plans in the context of The Community Charter
Passed in January 2004, The Community Charter is a new piece of legislature that replaces in part the Local Government Act. As it now stands The Community Charter gives municipalities in British Columbia a broader range of powers and consequently greater responsibility for their future.
The Community Charter states that the purposes of a municipality include “fostering the economic, social and environmental well-being of its community.” What, one wonders, could be simpler than that?
A major document required to bring The Community Charter to life is the Official Community Plan [OCP]. It is, according to none other than The Social Planning and Research Council of BC [SPARCBC] in its newsletter, Fall 2005 Volume 22 Issue Number 4 described as “…..a document that sets out the general policies and plans for where and how land-use and infrastructure, like sewers, parks, and transportation, will develop in the future. The creation of an OCP legally requires public input and it cannot be changed without public consultation.” Of interest to this observer is what follows: “All bylaws created after an OCP is adopted must not contradict the plans and policies of the OCP.”
The hierarchy which underlies all policy and planning in our communities in BC then looks like this:
1. The Community Charter
2. The Official Community Plan
5. Bylaws subsequent to adoption of the plan
There is no room for interpretation of any of the statements set out in the charter. What then prompted the public outcry and rejection of the Maple Ridge OCP in the summer of 2005? What lessons will the district staff, council, the various interest groups and the general public come away with from this debate, which ranged from pleading to vitriolic? Municipal politics can heat up from time to time, but it is rare to see neighbour pitted against neighbour, friend against friend in so public an arena.
Today, out of curiosity, I visited the Maple Ridge Public Library where I knew I could find a copy of the OCP 2005 Review. I also knew that I would find there copies of all the previous OCPs going back to 1995. As I began flipping through these thick, data-laden books, with no specific agenda in mind, it struck me that the 2005 OCP was prepared with The Community Charter as its guide, whereas all previous attempts at wrestling our future into a document came under the influence and guidance of the Local Government Act, that is to say pre-2004. This meant, though it was not really significant, that strictly speaking neither the authors of the 2005 OCP nor its critics were comparing apples with apples when it came to the DNA of the previous OCP and the current rendition.
Continuing my idle flipping through the OCPs of today and yesterday I thought I’d take a peek at the “introductory” pages of all these documents. What I was searching for were the words: “…..a document that sets out the general policies and plans for where and how land-use and infrastructure, like sewers, parks, and transportation, will develop in the future. The creation of an OCP legally requires public input and it cannot be changed without public consultation” and, of course: “All bylaws created after an OCP is adopted must not contradict the plans and policies of the OCP.” In no OCP ever prepared by the district tcould I find set out the definition of what exactly an OCP is, as stipulated by The Community Charter.
It is little wonder that the public become frustrated with legislators when they come to review government documents that fail to state their purpose at the outset. In defence of the authors of the 2005 OCP, the planning department did use language that in its opening remarks on the first day of the public hearings stated that the OCP was a "guiding document." By then however, it was too late. The public, having had the opportunity to read the document for several months ahead of the public hearings had not spotted the omission by the authors and consequently read the document believing that it was, as one speaker put it, cast in stone. Nothing could be further from the purpose or from the definition. Had this very fundamental difference been made clear from the beginning, the likelihood is that Maple Ridge would have had its OCP passed prior to the forthcoming municipal elections.
The lesson? Daniel Hill, President of SPAR BC, in the same newsletter quoted above, offers some clues. He says in his President’s Message Finding community in language: “….language is the foundation of culture and communication, one of the cornerstones of civilization. But language ―and indeed the way we think― is imperfect, and sometimes inadequate, and its mastery the work of a lifetime and more.”
Satisfying 70,000 people in a document as complex as the OCP needs thought. The first thought however, should be to tell the reader what it is they are about to read.
In today’s world, where corporate jargon has spilled over into government, government is at risk of loosing its way and perhaps forgetting its role as described so eloquently and an neatly by the authors of The Community Charter: “…….“fostering the economic, social and environmental well-being of its community.”
Words such as aims, goals, drivers, vision and mission statements are useful to the extent that they have become easily recognizable to followers and practioners of business, and when used are bound to illicit that knee-jerk reaction which may thrill a vice-president of marketing. Peppering documents such as an OCP with the same terms can however distract from the purpose of a document such as the OCP. To frame it in retail language, one could call this practice, “overdressing the window.”
The temptation is strong for government to want to be seen as hip and relating to the market sector by adopting phrases such as going forward, value-based, strategic plan and core beliefs. Hip it may be, but if it results in accusations of obfuscation and lingoism (a cousin I thought perhaps of jingoism) then government officials should think again before committing documents with this me-too language to publication.
In order to smooth the passage of policy-making, writers in government at all levels should give a wide berth to the showboating tricks of the market sector when it comes to documents such as the OCP. There is nothing novel in this suggestion; it is the subject of hundreds, if not thousands of books and academic publications. Once in a while however, a perfect storm will form in one community or the other, such as the one Maple Ridge was forced to weather during the summer of 2005. A tempest that reminded us that words omitted can be as damaging as words uttered. We wish the skippers, navigators, mid-shipmen, deckhands and even admirals of this little ship of ours called Maple Ridge, a smoother passage in 2006.
Monday, October 17, 2005
MAPLE RIDGE 2006
OFFICIAL COMMUNITY PLAN PROCESS
Over its short history the Province of British Columbia has grown from a pioneer land of plenty where lumber, fish, precious and base metals, and in later years fossil fuels have been the economic base from which towns large and small have grown. Compared to many other regional communities in North America growth has been steady, but modest.
As a community that had its start in the modern era British Columbia, and for that matter Canada, appears to have benefited from cherry picking the apparently good elements of government while eschewing the seemingly negative aspects. Canada has, in a sense, had the advantage of going to school on the mistakes of older communities on the European continent and even political systems less distant, such as the United States.
Whether or not all the choices made by Canada's founding political leaders, venture capitalists and technicians were the right ones or not, are hard to gauge. The fact remains that through daily federal, provincial and local government discourse, the debate over the future of Canada is waged throughout the country formally and informally on the streets, living rooms, and kitchens coffee shops from west to east and north to south. Indigenous peoples and settlers from every era do as all citizens around the world do; they discuss the issues of the day. When words fail, benign or violent action combined with threatening or aggressive language is the last resort.
To some extent informal debate is the incubator for formal debate. At the same time it is reasonable to suspect that formal debate, more often than not, can be traced back to a formal source. For example, a cabinet minister, member of parliament and member of the legislature or any branch of Canada's many levels of government could choose to initiate discussion on an issue which they would like to see debated and perhaps brought into law. An individual within the formal structure of government with enough influence and a good idea may also see his or her idea come alive in formal debate.
Informal debate, for its part, remains the medium of the general public and the electorate. It is stimulated by innovative thought, either conciously or by accident. It is common for instance for informal groups to gather and look for ideas on how society can be improved. Recently government itself, encouraged by canny politicians, has learned to be the instigator in bringing together such groups under the banner of 'government for the people by the people.'
Commonly referred to as 'public consultation' this model is often seen as the safest and most democratic model for getting things done in government. Moreover, the public process provides government officials and politicians a prop upon which to lean in times when critical debate is at its highest pitch, election time. Public opinion, briefly, transforms from informal to formal. A chat over a doughnut and coffee suddenly shows up as a tick or an 'X' mark in a box opposite a candidate's name. No turning back once the candidate has been selected and the ballot is slipped into the box; well not until the next election anyhow. But it may be too late by then; Republicans in the Bush era may wish to reflect on this one day; sooner rather than later, if they get the chance.
Within each grand political structure or mechanism lie all the sub-structures and subsets which enable those unfamiliar with a specific political region to better understand the inner workings and aims of local communities.
Government departmentalizes and compartmentalizes itself for purposes of function, access and comprehension. The public can see how government works, has the ability to access government and therefore is able to learn about and comprehend government. In so doing the public comes face to face with itself as it is the public that is the ultimate arbiter of government. Imagine for a moment creeping around a haunted house looking for some unknown monster and then as you round a corner in a darkened hallway you are shocked to find yourself staring back at you. That is, for all intent and purpose, the truth behind government.
“That is why we should not vote only for any politician who says, for instance, there are no quick fixes more than three times a year. Punish her (or him) for banality and the contempt for us [the voters] that it implies.” So writes Don Watson in Death Sentences, Viking Canada, 2005. Government, perhaps more so in Canada than any other country, with the exception of the United Kingdom from which the Canadian system has evolved, is the in the business of the slow fix. Politicians and staff mandarins see nothing, but benefit slowing the process of government to an imperceptible crawl. To begin with it reduces the chances of making mistakes which may become public knowledge. Second, the longer someone takes to do something which they are essentially responsible for, the longer their tenure and security can be guaranteed. By reminding the public each day at federal, provincial and local levels that, there are no quick fixes our elected and hired officials can sleep soundly each night knowing that a long, but safe road lies ahead of them.
Against this background the current Maple Ridge Official Community Plan is an oddity. Odd because there appeared an urgency in its preparation, and odd because there seemed an eagerness on the part of the District’s elected officials to have the OCP put before council for approval and oddly too, several members made clear their endorsement of the OCP, notwithstanding the protestations over five days by 145 speakers from the public and perhaps over a 1000 emails and letters contesting one or other aspect of the staff-drafted report. Finally, the politicians were persuaded to relent and ask staff for a new report; and a great deal of time in meetings was spent to hammer out what the major complaints from the public were that needed addressing. The results of staff’s report and redrafted OCP proposal will surface in yet another round of public hearings in the spring and early summer of 2006.
While the OCP is designed to project the community into a forecasted future and is based on data and information gathered from professional consultants as well as in-house advisors, it is as well to try to understand in what context the OCP itself is seen. Where does the OCP reside in the context of national, provincial, regional and local landscape? How is it influenced from the structures above it and how does it influence the structures below it? The OCP, without going into any great detail, falls under what is commonly known as the Livable Regions Strategic Plan. Each district in the Province of British Columbia is required to have an Official Community Plan and to revise it regularly to insure that it meets current urban planning practices and is based on newly gathered, assembled and analyzed data.
The OCP is a complex document, to say the least. In some respects it acts as the DNA of the community and deserves the attention it receives. The document provides a wealth of detailed information about Maple Ridge; it would make an excellent candidate for inclusion in the district’s time-capsule as it says so much about Maple Ridge, its fears and its hopes.
The question that still lingers is one that was touched on lightly, often by implication rather than through direct finger pointing. The question is; what certainty surrounds the OCP? Is the OCP purely a guide or is it, to frame it in the words we hear so often set in stone (concrete)? This may seem an innocent enough question, but it is hard to imagine government providing a community plan that is set in stone or one that provides a quick fix. If the public is looking for certainty it would be better off reading the bylaws. The ever-present problem and I expect we will see it this summer is when the public and local government is forced into the arena of public process to debate formally what elements of the OCP are certain and which are not. If we cannot be certain of our plan, why do we have one? If, on the other hand, the plan is a guarantee of certainty set in stone, how will it effect our decisions in the future if it is not flexible? The question of Thornhill springs to mind.
Since the early 1980s the area east of 240th known as Thornhill has been designated ‘urban reserve’ and a target for future expansion of the district. In 2005 this aspect of the OCP does not sit well with many residents of Thornhill as well as other members of the community who favour limiting sprawl and protecting the Agricultural Land Reserve and Green Belt. Some local landowners, developers, realtors and speculators see it otherwise. Their contention is that growth is inevitable and based on the theory of inevitability (all things will come to pass) they had purchased this land in the recent past in the hopes of profiting from its disposal and or development. They base their decisions on the fact that earlier OCPs stated very clearly that Thornhill would one day be a target for new subdivisions to house an expanding population, driven eastward from the Greater Vancouver Regional District as it coped with its own expansion problems i.e. a land deficit.
The fundamental question then is; are we to regard the OCP as a flexible document which makes no promises either way and should not be relied on for speculation? Or is the OCP a mandate for speculators, fixed, as it were, in stone?
Saturday, October 15, 2005
Kathy Morse (incumbent), Bill Hartley, Gordon Robson, William Perry
Candace Gordon, Craig Speirs, Jon Harris, Ernie Daykin, Judy Dueck, Faye Isaac.
Peter Barnes, Simon Challenger, Mike Davies, Tyler Ducharme, Linda King, Joe McCamley, Graham Mowatt, Dan Olson, Robert Prince, Lorne Riding, Mike Sands, Ken Stewart.
The only thing that is certain in the Maple Ridge 2005 local elections is that all of the incumbents and all of the challengers are very nice people; in Simon Challenger's case of course, he is not only nice and a challenger, but he is as it were, a challenger twice over. The other thing, and this is why we have politicians, is that all of the issues, while timeless, are not all very nice.
Some issues are downright ugly. With Haloween preceding the elections by just a few weeks it is tempting to compare the issues with the ghouls and ghosts that haunt the imagination of all our citizens. Why not expand this concept by adding the notion that the candidates for mayor's job and the hopefuls in the race for council bring to the chambers, those spooky chambers up at Haney Place, special ogre, ghoul and ghost busting skills. Skills that will help to rid the town of Maple Ridge from the unspeakable horrors that threaten the civility of life in a modern (to some degree) mid-sized Canadian extension of Transyl-Vancouvia.
Topping my personal list of course is the Vinyl Monster. Slayers of the Vinyl Monster monster are lining up to be elected: Craig Speirs, Candace Gordon, Linda King will line behind Bill Hartley to slow the progress (not everyone would use the word 'progress')of the Vinyl Monster as it slashes its way eastward. A door in the downtown district proclaims in dull-coloured graffiti the words of a homeless prophet 'Onwards and Downwards.' Wish I'd thought of that.
Street-gossip gleaned from those 'in the know' suggests that Morse, Harrison, Dueck, and Daykin see the Vinyl Monster as no monster at all, but rather a saviour or at the very least a sort of Dr. Evil, who will add funds to a treasury that seems to demand, like that plant in the Rocky Horror Show, ' feed me!' Feed me with tax dollars.
Faye Isaac rings up another parking spot, smiles, thanks everyone much to everyone's dismay, and we move to the next item on the agenda.
The Drug Demons. Who shall slay them? Self-styled meth-master Gordon Robson is on the case; and a good thing too. While he is at it I wonder if he will rid Maple Ridge of its famed crop of grow ops? 'Come to Maple Ridge and watch your children grow op' - just another piece of graffiti to be found in the hood.
Wonder what William Perry's stance is on drugs?
Job-junky Joe McCamley has taken up the often-heard call for 'more jobs near to home.' Where will we house these jobs if we are not prepared to give up a little of our Green Giant?
The BIG BOX BOGEY MAN stalks the neighbourhoods too. A forensic team from the ever-present GVRD has been studying footprints left by the BIG BOX BUGGER in the silt along the banks of Kanaka Creek. Seems the beast, in the shape of FirstPro Chairman Michael Gold(b)ar swam up the Fraser River from the FirstPro head office in Richmond and crept up on the Albion Flats bearing gifts for landowners, they say. Someone found a note in the reeds which read 'is Maple Ridge open for business?' If by business he meant the kind that the Vinyl Monster indulges in, then the answer would be 'yes.' All depends on who is asking the question; and, of course, on who is answering the question.
Then happily, we have Casper the Friendly Ghost, he just wants everyone to be happy, happy, happy, happy. Plenty of green trees, plenty of undisturbed agricutural land and natural habit, a smile on every fish's face, a grin on every Grizzly's growl, the chirping of birds rather than the chipping of trees, clear water rather than the Starbucks-coloured stuff that runs off Silver Valley's slopes these grim winter days. He does not want agriculture turned to agriclutter. Who, one wonders, will slay Casper? Perhaps the sly FirstPro ghostbusters will can Casper.
But FirstPro will need strong allies in powerful places in order for the BIG BOX BOGEYMAN to drive the friendly little ghost from the Albion Flats. Michael Goldbar [real name Goldhar] will have his henchmen parked on Thornhill, binoculars aimed at Maple Ridge hamlet, eagerly awaiting the outcome of what promises to be an inelegant race.
The forces of evil abound, migrating down every homeless alleyway, snoozing in the neglect of another absentee landlord's nestegg. A protege of Gotham City? Or a wunderkind spawned by West Vancouver? Dormitory or dive?
Vibrant, verdant and virile? Stagnant, stultified and sterile? Stupendous perhaps? Perhaps.
A town of 70,000 is not a small town. It is, simply put, a responsibility. The 'magnificent seven' as one commentator recently called them are really only temporary custodians of the Distirct. They know that, as do we all. Nonetheless, the decisions they make during their tenure can have lasting effects; and misguided decisions can be hard to reverse. Try undoing the Haney Bypass for instance. Or undoing the town core. There's a thought.
Once houses have filled the slopes of Thornhill all the way to Whonnock, Ruskin and Mission it will be hard to win back the land they once occupied. Hard to imagine isn't it. But not so hard for those who already have it on their drawing boards.
A healthy economy, a green boundary, secure streets, planned growth, social integrity, care for the aged, care for the young and (uniquely Canadian) care for the careless and the uncaring. Care even for the ghouls and ghosts, the demons and devils, the ogres and zombies, the fears and the threats that inhabit, from to time, the voters' minds. Just pretend you are in Iraq, or Zimbabawe, or North Korea, or Chetchnya, Kabul or Darfur when you go to the polls. In these place people vote for their lives, not simply a better life.
Thursday, October 13, 2005
The reason I posted that particular letter is that it came back to me undelivered. My life-long teasing of Perseus comes from the fact that he is a hypochondriac, but of course the one thing that we all share with hypos is that while their ailments may be imagined it makes no difference as we will all go the same way one day. Hence the poem "Oh my God I'm Dying"; it is an ode to Perseus. He may indeed have passed on by now. His drug of choice has always been a cough mixture called "Collis Brown". Very much a William Burroughs character he suffers(erd) from paranoia and used to carry a gun called 'Rupert' which was to protect him from the right wing in South Africa. In the 60s he traveled through Africa down the Nile with the world famous playwright Athol Fugard and continually bitched at me (why me I'll never know) that Athol dumped Perseus somewhere in the heart of Africa (I think was Khartoum) to travel on alone. Most people would have dumped Perseus as early as Cairo, but Khartoum must have presented the first opportunity for Athol. Athol and his girlfriend (Yvonne Bryceland) went on to become very famous, writing probably the most well-known piece of theatre to come out of South Africa known as 'Bosman and Lena' - look it up on the net and you'll see all the other works of Athol. I think Athol spent time in Hollywood and is now back in South Africa. Yvonne played a nurse in the original Beverly Hills Cops. Athol, Yvonne and I would meet now and then at the Elizabeth Hotel on the beachfront in Sea Point, Cape Town and suck back a few beers.
Perseus matriculated (Grade 12) when he was 15. He had qualified as a teacher before he turned 20 and was a noted English Teacher in his early days. His Dad before him was a well-known school principal of (I believe) Wynberg Girls High School. My mother and lived in Wynberg and Perseus' ailing parents lived there too at the time. Wynberg village as a hotbed of poets, writers, playwrights, painters and sculptors in the 50s, 60s and 70s. My parents and I were deep in it. Many examples of the work to come out of the period are in my house, as you know.
Another aspiring artist who used to hang around Perseus was a fellow called Basil Frank - now and then I used to drugs from him in the 60s. He seemed to have an abundant supply of methamphetamines and a variety of other stimulants none of whose names (surprise, surprise) I can remember. Basil's dad was a doctor, so it did not take an lawful lot of imagination to know where the drugs came from. Sons and daughters of doctors and pharmacists were very popular with their contemporaries in the 60s. In poor Basil's case it made not an iota of difference to his popularity. He was never popular, no matter what. He did however find in Perseus another hypochondriac and paranoiac; and so began a lifelong relationship. Athol forever on the run from Perseus, Perseus forever on the run from Basil and me, well I guess I just saw it play out in front of me, joining in now and then, in the hope that I would get to bed Yvonne Bryceland, but alas, she was on the run from me.
Sunday, October 09, 2005
OH MY GOD I'M DYING
Oh, my God, I'm dying, am I the only one?
Oh, my God, I'm dying.
I am hard of hearing and my lungs are reft of air.
Oh, my God, I'm dying.
Good Christ, it is surprising how the time rolling.
O Lordy, Lordy, and Lordy my legs are feeling weak.
My knees are sore, my back hurts so, and my hair is falling out.
Oh, my God it's true, yet what can this mortal do?
Death is no big deal, nor should it be construed
We find ourselves one day, born and so alive.
Why should we give a damn at all about a fate so sure?
Oh my God I'm dying, my brain has grown defective.
I'm dying. I'm dying. Shit, it really stings.
Bugger me it's been a long death.
No doubt I'm that far gone, the condition is quite serium.
congenital or denital, cancer or the pox,
Don't grieve for me Argentina, or anyone at all.
Sorrow's dimension blinds this inward eye.
When we refuse,
Yet when self elects refusal it is the infinite
Bury the brittle ego, faded and obscure.
As ego and Universe seem twinned in death.
Mothers, fathers, children creeds, deeds and done-for doubts
It would be as easy to launch these lines of respect disrespectfully,
would somehow in its meaning ring untrue;
if not sad at least.
Would be just as easy to scatter one's emotions
safely about the lingering lanes, between lovers, trees,
Percy Ling, drunk as a rugby team shouts: "who will shake me for one?"
Every man-soul hears him and replies as one "Not me, o please not me."
Nor dog nor cat nor none.
Ah, but Percy I will shake you till the dice go rattlin To hell.
And on your stone one day they'll write; "I'll have the same.
Saturday, October 08, 2005
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
QUALITY CANDIDATES SOUGHT FOR MAPLE RIDGE 2005
The following quote from Lawrence Martin's column in the Globe & Mail (Thursday, October 6, 2005) could be applicable to our forthcoming municipal elections:
"Intellect can gain you important yards in politics. Personality gets you across the goal line."
Canny voters in Maple Ridge will be looking out for candidates with both qualities.
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
"Grow the labour force and work towards increased productivity." This
is the latest mantra from Ottawa. The electoral candidates in Maple
Ridge may wish to reflect on how these very broad, perhaps high-brow
aspirations, fit into the context of this District. What role can
Maple Ridge play in British Columbia's and its own prosperity by
focusing on jobs and productivity? What do the candidates have to say?
Land Use + Community Well-being + Civic Fiscal Health + Environmental Husbandry + Cultural Stimulation = Economic Development When considering the future of Maple Ridge what do you invision: a pastoral/green place or a place of business, a microcosm of any other large municipality?
What do you think of free markets beyond the borders of Maple Ridge?
Do you think they impact on our future?
Do you think we are missing the opportunity of training our young
people in the trades?
If someone suggested to you that we should encourage the idea of
retraining the homeless for work, how would you react?
Do you see the foot print of the built environment obliterating the
green environment or would you put a cap on development?
The vast majority of taxes come from the residents in Maple Ridge, do
you think this is fine or should it be balanced out by encouraging
growth business tax base?
Maple Ridge has the smallest percentage of industrial land available
of almost every other District in BC. Is this good or bad?
Is there any point in actively seeking external investment or should
the District just go with flow and see how things pan out economically
in the future?
Do you think any of the working population would prefer to work in
Maple Ridge in a job comparable to the one they already have to travel
to each day?
Could the working population benefit from or even want higher paying
What do you think about regional head offices moving into Maple Ridge?
As candidate do you have some idea of what the demographics are in
Maple Ridge and how they can be used to move economic development ahead?
What role do you think regional and local transport plays in economic
Do you see Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows competing for the same
Will our workers flow out from Maple Ridge to work in Surrey when the
new crossing is complete?
Will businesses relocate to Surrey from Maple Ridge? Does it matter?
If the Pitt Meadows airport were to handle larger aircraft would that
make Maple Ridge a better place to own a business?
Is Maple Ridge growing too fast or too slow for your liking?
Do you think the 2010 Winter Olympics will benefit Maple Ridge? How?
How do the candidates intend to join the dots? Do they understand the
connections between the economic drivers above?
By Dr. Hans-Peter Weikard, Environmental Economics and Natural Resources Group
Land is living space for humans and a great variety of other species. Land is the most important input factor for agricultural production. Industrial production and services compete with agriculture for the best location. Understanding land use patterns requires an understanding of decision making and competition. Economics is the discipline that analyses social processes as based on individual decision making. We can distinguish two main branches of economic analysis: positive (or empirical) economics and normative economics.
Positive economics develops and analyses explanatory models. Given a suitable description of a social phenomenon, economic models seek to explain it. An economic explanation shows how the observed phenomenon results from individual decisions. The usual behavioural assumption is that an agent maximises a predetermined goal. This rather general framework can be used in different applications.
· Market demand is analysed assuming households maximise satisfaction from consumer goods and services (cf. Kreps, 1990).
· Market supply is analysed assuming firms maximise profits (cf. Kreps, 1990).
· In the area of politics and bureaucracy, politicians are assumed to maximise votes or the chance of re-election; bureaucrats are assumed to maximise their budget (cf. Mueller, 1989).
From the last item it is clear that economic thinking and the use of the economic method of analysis is not restricted to the analysis of economic phenomena, like production, consumption, markets, prices, etc.
Economics as a discipline is defined by its method, not by its subject area (cf. Blaug, 1980).
Normative economics takes a different perspective. It does not aim at explanation but rather seeks to provide guidance to decision makers. For given aims of the decision maker and a given situation, is there anything we can recommend to do? The most relevant topics in normative economics are
· Cost-benefit analysis. A rational decision requires that we count the costs and the benefits of alternative actions. (cf. Zerbe and Dively,1994)
· Risk analysis. In decision making under risk we must assess the actions under different circumstances and their respective probabilities. How much risk should one take? (cf. Brehmer and Sahlin, Eds., 1994)
· Discounting. Costs and benefits may come at different points in time. A later benefit may be worth less (or more) than a current benefit. How should we compare across time? (cf. Price, 1993)
· Strategic situations. Others can react upon one's own choices. What is best in a situation of strategic interaction? (cf. Gibbons, 1992)
· Interpersonal comparisons. Others are affected by one's own actions. How should others' well-being be taken into account? (cf. Elster and Roemer, Eds., 1991)
Two broad areas analysis can be distinguished: microeconomics and macroeconomics. Microeconomics focuses on models of individual agents and their interaction, while macroeconomics focuses on aggregate phenomena like unemployment or growth.
To sum up, the key features of mainstream economics, sometimes called "neoclassical economics" are maximising behaviour and the idea of an equilibrium, where each agent is satisfied with the outcome, given the initial situation. Recent heterodoxies have criticised mainstream views on various accounts:
· Public choice and institutionalism: The role of institutions is not given sufficient weight. Too much of traditional analysis assumes an ideal planner (cf. Rowley, Tollison and Tullock, Eds., 1988).
· Ecological economics: Mainstream economics neglects that the economic process is closely intertwined with nature (cf. Costanza, Ed., 1991).
· Evolutionary economics: Agents may not be maximising but rather follow some "rules of thumb" which have been successful in an evolutionary process. Spontaneous innovation and competition create a dynamic evolving system, rather than an equilibrium of markets in an economy (cf. Witt, Ed., 1992).
Blaug, Mark (1980) The methodology of economics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Brehmer, Berndt/Sahlin, Nils-Eric (eds., 1994) Future Risks and Risk management. Dordrecht: Kluwer.
Costanza, Robert (ed., 1991) Ecological Economics. New York: Columbia University Press.
Elster, Jon/ Roemer, John E. (eds., 1991) Interpersonal Comparisons of Well-Being. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Gibbons, Robert (1992) Game Theory for Applied Economists. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Kreps, David M. (1990) A course in microeconomic theory. New York: Harvester Wheatsheaf.
Mueller, Dennis C. (1989) Public Choice II. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Price, Colin (1993) Time, Discounting and Value. Oxford: Blackwell.
Rowley, Charles K./ Tollison, Robert D./ Tullock, Gordon (eds., 1988) The Political Economy of Rent-Seeking. Boston: Kluwer.
Witt, Ulrich (ed., 1992) Explaining Process and Change. Approaches to Evolutionary Economics. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press.
Zerbe, Richard O. Jr./Dively, Dwight D. (1994) Benefit-Cost Analysis. New York: HarperCollins.