Monday, December 1, 2008

Granville Street Redux

Hi David,

Here we go again. They are doing yet another beautification project for
Granville Street. I was the project coordinator for the one done in
1974. Council was anxious to complete the project quickly so as to
minimize disruption to merchants. I wrote the report to City Council
which concluded with the following ditty:

The problem concerning the Mall
Is whether to start it this fall,
Or study and wonder
And worry and ponder
And maybe not do it at all.
There are problems of course if we hurry,
That may give you some reason for worry,
The pavement may turn out mauve, purple and blue,
The trees may not transplant,
The merchants may sue,
But somehow I think we can all pull it through
And if not we'll find work in Surrey.

A few years before Granville Mall there was the Theatre Row
beautification project done by the firm of Hoppings Kovacs and Grinnel
in 1967. It added cute street lamps and red sidewalks.

There is nothing wrong with fixing up streets, paving them and planting
trees. That is what City Hall is supposed to do. The City Hall staff
report however is something else. There are no poems. It purports to
give a history of street renovations and gets the facts and dates all
wrong. It speaks of returning the street to a "Great White Way" even
though it no longer is a theatre row. (This will be accomplished with
white light columns redolent of Albert Speers at his best.) It suggests
that it is going to return it to the good old days. However, I recall
very clearly (and have a copy of the Sun somewhere) that in 1972 the
Headline was, " Street People Sink Granville ins Shame!"

The ultimate conceit is this: Planners still imagine that by beautifying
the street they are going to solve the same problem that existed in the
late sixties and early seventies and in spite of successive waves of
beautification, never went away.

What really got to me however was that they cut down trees that were 35
years old. These beech trees were saplings when they were planted. Now
for a couple of blocks the street had at least that going for it. A week
before the new council took office they chopped 'em down. I will be 105
years old when the new ones are the same size as the ones they replaced.

Below is a copy of a letter to the editor I just sent to the Sun.

"There is good news and bad news.

The bad news is that most of the trees on Granville Street have been cut

The good news is that the Engineer and the Planner have wonderful things
in store. According to a Report of May 22, 2008 buried in the City’s web
page, the trees had to be removed to make Granville a “Great Street.”
They are doing this to “elevate community pride” and create a “sense of
place.” Better yet, they tell us that they are going to make it a super
duper “Great White Way”.

Yes, and they are going to plant even better trees. While the seedlings
grow we will all have an uninterrupted view of the glorious facades of
Granville Street.

If tree removal works as well as they expect maybe they’ll try it on
Clayoquot sound."


House Cleaning - We are Bonded

Yesterday's posting (We are Sinking) might also have been been called Political Leadership is an Endangered Species.

This morning I am not sure I have ever seen such gutter level behaviour from the elected shamans in Ottawa.

They are all, each and every one of them, sorry excuses for citizens, let alone national leaders.

Harper, in actions revealing all the worst that people have feared and predicted of him, made sweeping announcements only a few days ago that showed absolutely no interest in the nation. End the government dole for election financing and close down the right of civil servants to strike. In a time calling for prudence and some wisdom and some sense of what Barbara Brandon and Carl Crofton might be experiencing, Harper pulled a Nixon - strangle your enemies and do it large and in public. Nice.

The Disarrayed who call themselves The Other Guys, not wishing to be outdone in the Department of Cheezy and Self-Serving have rushed into washrooms and other secret gathering places to plot The Great Take Over. Just what Canadians asked for, right? Stephane Dion and Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe in permanent party mode. That'll be an effective and fine kettle of fish, won't it now?

Could the Four Fools disgrace themselves any more? Could they abandon the Canadian public any further?

Let's put it on the table here.

Duceppe has never been on my radar, not for a second. I cannot take seriously a party or a man who believe that they are in a separate country, except for when the purse need be opened. To me, the Bloc is like a petulant teen-age daughter who hates everything you do, except I need another Lexus and iPod, Dad.

Layton is a pleasant enough fellow, but he has overstayed his welcome. No Ed Broadbent. No chance of revitalizing the NDP.

Dion could never be taken seriously. Who is this guy?

Which leaves Harper. I have steered largely out of the Demonizing Harper camp because until now I have seen him as a not very interesting human being, who nevertheless was doing a reasonable enough job of managing the files. I have been listening to the He's Really Evil, You Know bleating for several years now and I have smiled patiently.

Now, suspension of mistrust and judgement has been put side.

Harper is the tiniest of political minds, a tinpot, partisan, taking-everything-personally oligarch of the worst kind.

We need a House Cleaning.