Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Where Have All the Cities Gone?

I have just returned from a 2 week stay in Victoria.

I rented a flat in a very modern, very chic new condo building right on the waterfront on the Inner Harbour.

Sounds good so far, yes?


For all around the building were drug addicts and the homeless.

Practically attached to the condo were several social service agencies, including a shelter.

Every day, I walked the gauntlet of bug-eyed crazies. What fun.

But this is not some isolated issue confined to one short street.

The entire downtown core - other than the perennially shiny Government Street, which is given entirely over to tourists and I am sure has not seen a Victoria resident in 20 years -is a sewer.

The Hudson's Bay building will soon be condos. Douglas and Blanshard and Quadra, once the main strolling and shopping areas, are occupied by ugly, scruffy, directionless young thugs.

Oh yes, there are still beautiful old areas to be found in Victoria and even a few lovely new districts, as there are in Vancouver and other cities. But the downtown, the former lifeblood of the city, is a fetid stinking mess.

A few days before I went over to Victoria, I drove to downtown Vancouver on a Saturday for a couple of silly errands.

Same experience.

Robson Street west of Burrard still has all the Japanese tourists and Korean ESL students.

But everything else, everywhere else is ugly, scruffy people. Nobody is buying. You don't see people with full shopping bags like you do in the center of Seattle or San Fransisco on a Saturday morning.

So my question is this: What have we done to our cities?

Did we actually believe that communities and neighbourhoods can survive on condos and chai lattes alone?

I'm sure it's all very nice for Bob Rennie and his Marketing Systems, but what's it got to do with Real Life?

It's not just the DTES. It's Granville and Georgia that are deserts. I won't be going downtown again soon. Will you? Do you?

Vancouver and Victoria have HUGE planning staffs at their respective city halls. What are we getting for our money?

Sam, The Light Bulb King

Not since a certain French maiden shrieked, "Let them eat cake," has there been a more thoughtful and magnanimous offer from a leader to the scruffy plebes.

The Nutty Mayor clutches his microphone and his daily headline by pledging Two Million Taxpayers Dollars for Cambie merchants.

For what?

For compensation for mom and pop shops that have gone tits up? No.

For money for mom and pop shops to rebuild their broken and shuttered businesses? No.

Ready? Sitting down?

For lamp standards and benches!

I guess this means that in the new and perfect World According to Sam we will be able to sit under a bench and read at 10pm thanks to the new illumination from the new and improved lamp posts.

Sam, The Illumminator.

This guy has 9 paid personal advisors and this is what they come up with?

eric clapton - wonderful tonight

ooooo la la ...

Dan Russell's Language Lessons From the Prez

Can the English language survive Bush?

"The vast majority of our imports come from outside the country. "- George W. Bush

"If we don't succeed, we run the risk of failure."- George W. Bush

"One word sums up probably the responsibility of any Governor, and that? one word is 'to be prepared'. "- George W. Bush

"I have made good judgments in the past. I have made good judgments in the future."- George W. Bush

"The future will be better tomorrow. "? George W. Bush"We're going to have the best educated American people in the world. "- George W. Bush

"I stand by all the misstatements that I've made."- George W. Bush

" We have a firm commitment to NATO, we are a part of NATO. We have a firm commitment to Europe We are a part of Europe."- George W. Bush?

"Public speaking is very easy."- George W. Bush

"A low voter turnout is an indication of fewer people going to the polls."? - George W. Bush

"We are ready for any unforeseen event that may or may not occur. "- George W. Bush

"For NASA, space is still a high priority."- George W. Bush

" Quite frankly, teachers are the only profession that teach our children."- George W. Bush

" It isn't pollution that's harming the environment. It's the impurities in our air and water that are doing it. "- George W. Bush

"It's time for the human race to enter the solar system."- George W. Bush