Wednesday, June 03, 2009

A wild guess

The shopping debate rages on in Maple Ridge. Should a typical bland, big box boresville be built in the Albion to appease Mr. and Mrs. Shopaholic who recently moved into their dream home in Maple Ridge East?

Or should the small, not so profitable, theft-ridden niche retailers continue their valiant battle in Maple Ridge's downtown?

We can be forgiven for not wanting to hear another word on this subject, but it has crossed Radio Haney's thought waves that what we will find as a final outcome is a fully developed downtown, densified, satisfied, sanctified and - much to the delight of many - an equally developed Albion with all but the hardiest of shrubs buried deep below a mixed development of sports fields, small industry, some townhouses, a cinema, a soccer stadium, a light hi-tech industrial park and yep, a big box centre with all the national and international names one would expect.

In time, the industrial wasteland south of the Lougheed will also have its socks pulled up by some visionary developer or the other.

It is not the end of world. Just the end of the past world.

The urge to shop is a curious phenomenon. Most people don't need to shop at all, other than for food and home essentials. Perhaps if one were able to find quality goods in our shops it would be less necessary to go out and replace them so often? Perhaps too, if buildings were built with the notion of surviving more than a couple of decades we would be assured of not building the slums of the future.

Ah well, humans have a shelf-life so why not everything else as well. By all accounts the planet too has a shelf-life and if we are to believe what so many believe then even the Earth's expiry date is fast closing in on us. With that in mind, where we shop or don't shop, seems less rather than more of a priority.

Commercial interests are working frantically at profiting from the notion of retail-or-perish thinking. Our politicians and public servants hopefully are working with other, higher aims on the agenda; that is to say, the safety, security and happiness of the greater community. We say 'hopefully' sincerely - there can be no certainty as to the ability of government to meet its stated objectives. Integrity, one hopes, lingers not too forlorn in the halls of decision-making.

As for Maple Ridge, it seems apparent that this is a town focused on small business and the endeavours of the individual entrepreneur, the lone sailors - rather than the captains - of industry. In an odd reversal of things as we know them, it is almost as though the small businesses in Maple Ridge are what keeps the big businesses from entering Maple Ridge. We lack for nothing, other than large employers. In a simple response, we are thus forced, by all accounts, to employ ourselves in a legion of the self-employed. That is us. That is Maple Ridge. Self-sufficient. Self-employed. Self-starting.

The big guys will drift into town from time to time, sure. Some may choose to give the 'Ridge' a shot. Some will get caught in the City of Pitt Meadows. Some will pass on by to Mission. The impact of the two bridges is - at least Radio Haney thinks so - woefully underestimated by the technicians and politicians. From July 2009 Maple Ridge will never be the same.

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