Tuesday, 4 March 2014
When Nelson Commons "officially" put their request for a development permit plus variances on Council's table - part of the request-package is a significant reduction in parking-spaces: locked-in by bylaw. Reason given: Without this reduction the Co-op would need an additional 2 mill for a second underground parking-level. This - supposedly - would make the whole project unfeasible.
While this parking-variance actually is no variance at all: as in to be explored in Council here/now, then possibly approved here/now and only then kick-started into whatever action needs to be taken. After the official request! Not before! Council?
Dave Wahn, Manager of Development Services & Sustainability, Approving Officer or simply Prince Variant - ardent and proactive frontline supporter since day one - for quite some time and way before development permit and variances granted - works on tweaking bylaw requirements under the guise of a general redo of parking. But really just to - when the time comes - save the Co-op additional construction-costs for the additional parking-level.
To still show the required (or close) number of parking-spaces in the area he devises a scheme of Smallishtown genius: He makes existing parking-spaces narrower and shorter - thus creating more parking! Irregardless! Not only that: he gets the Co-op to promise bike-racks! How to park a car in a bike-rack is not addressed.
Council clucks with approval!
He explains: People will just have to drive smaller cars, and when you live downtown (like in the Nelson Commons!) you don't need a car so much anyway because you're already there there. Yeah!
Part of the development variance request is notifying all those with residential property/a business within a radius of 60 meters for input on the proposed project, and this is how Prince Variant handles that one:
A businessman within the radius tells me that everybody's input will be due at City Hall the following day. Deadline. He also knows that Prince Variant's parking-redo is finished - thus could be made available to those within the radius - all of Nelson really! - for input. BUT! The redo is kept from them for now so that the neighborhood won't get too vocal about possible parking-issues before a surely already set-for-approval parking-variance request. There could be no other reason, and this businessman is very upset with Prince Variant.
There are interesting parallels between both projects: information is withheld by Staff - meaning Dave Wahn - to facilitate a special-interest group. The Nelson public not special enough!
According to Erica Konrad in her comment on Nelson residents take development to the streets, Nelson Star, 1 March, 2014, Staff suggests to Council granting variance requests of the Nelson Landing developer because there have been no letters to City Hall from the public by Friday before Monday's Council meeting. Nimbly sidestepping the fact that Staff hasn't informed the general public about this all-Nelson issue; conveniently not calling this item on the City's agenda-items webpage by its name - Nelson Landing - but by its thus far non-existent street address; a Regular Council Meeting not being open for public input.
Well-planned, Prince Variant!
Images: Takashi Kitajima
Monday, 24 February 2014
Nudging the predictable Cultural Development Committee (CDC) - now turns into poking! In the eye! With 5 artistically created bike racks for the downtown core.
To prepare for this poke a bit we may want to go to posts below
City Hall's Blurred Vision - Part 3
18 Jan. 2014
The City Hall (Blurred) Vision Quest - Part 2
4 Jan. 2014
The City Hall (Blurred) Vision Quest - Part 1
23 Dec. 2013
and look at how it, we, they get to this.
When - at the end of last year - the $33.000 Nelson identity sticker is proposed to Council - Joy Barrett, Cultural Development Officer, justifies the need for it with We realized that unless we have a unified creative vision, what we will be doing may be (actually has been all along!) a bit piecemeal. Ostensibly this e-shopped I.D. would provide that vision for the CDC - don't ask! - as it would for Councillor Kiss, bemoaning large amounts of money spent without a cohesive vision. Both referring to (gobs of) money (solely) spent by the CDC on projects all consistently striving upward willy-nilly towards artsy mediocrity. Willy-nilly!
So one could reasonably assume that the CDC will wait with initiating more of the same until this I.D. with its unified creative vision has materialized. Wrong, wrong, wrong! Mere seconds after that proposal to Council and Barrett's opinion voiced, the CDC announces said 5 artistically created bike racks - a few thousand bucks for them already easily secured - soon to be formally announced to local artists for design-submissions.
And a couple of months later - a few days ago and no unified creative vision in sight - the project is announced formally. A single design may be accepted for all 5 racks from 1 artist, or several designs may be acceptable from several artists. Or! May! Whatever! In a CBC interview Barrett is looking forward to being surprised.
Without this mythical unified creative vision - criteria for choosing the design(s) will be left to spontaneous combustion among a volunteer-jury comprising a business-person, an architect, an artist, and I forget the usual rest. This being Nelson - usually the same insiders cross-pollinate between committees (including the CDC), boards, groups - sometimes 1 on several at the same time. They know the drill; the CDC - also supposedly run by volunteers - for all intents and purposes - literally - with Councillor Macdonald their handler.
From the outside - 2 reality-based points beg to be addressed here:
1. The need for bike racks
2. Funding of bike racks
The Need for Bike Racks
In biking weather - say within 1 hour - one may see 3 bikes tops ridden through downtown. Maybe an additional 3 or so are chained somewhere. There probably are a few more cyclists on their way to/from work before/after office/store-hours, but their bikes are safely kept away from Baker. Few would be foolish enough to leave an expensive bike outside - somewhere downtown - for a whole work-day. Bicycle racks will not make that more appealing.
A convenient aspect of riding bikes: no parking-problems - they can be left anywhere, as long as there's a post of some kind or a wall. No matter where these racks will be set-up: some of the few downtown-cyclists won't care for having to locate 1 closest to where they want to go, leave their bikes there - and then walk.
There have been no problems with bicycles downtown - why artificially create them?
Those who think there will be an increase in bikes directly linked to a decrease in cars - environmental issues and all that - are seriously large-urban-center-deluded!
This fully-grown smallish town - city by classification on paper only: confusing many even at City Hall - has an ever-increasing senior population which will not deal with hills, inclement weather, shopping, etc. on a bike.
Neither will the more hardy. They will not give-up their SUVs, pick-ups, etc. - needed for work, tailgating and lugging stuff and people around. Some of these drivers may get/have a bike - but not as a primary means of transportation. Nelson's economy depends on people from as far as The Valley - yet even the most ardent gluten-free tree-huggers won't come on bikes from a greater distance.
Speaking of economy: what about tourists? Who come in cars. And the more tourists we'll get - that's what we want, isn't it? - the more cars they'll drive-up in.
So What's With The CDC Anyway?
And why is its well-financed output never realistically connected to an economic goal/benefit for Nelson? Installing 5 bike racks with say 5 slots each downtown means about 20 slots never used. While cluttering sidewalks. Using a (highly questionable) future increase in bikes as a reason would be ever so righteous but pointless - a waste of today's taxes on still more predictably self-congratulatory artsy expressions.
My suggestion to the CDC: If you can't do unified creative vision - how about basic context. Common sense? Reasonableness?
What fuels the CDC's decision-making processes? To find out first-hand: monthly meetings are open to the public - so walk right into the Mayor's Office (he won't be there), 2nd floor, City Hall, usually at 11:30am. For dates go to www.nelson.ca and click on Meeting Calendar in the top-right corner.
Next CDC meeting: Wed. March 5, 11:30am.
Funding of Bike Racks
They are installed to help facilitate pedestrian-flow - in large urban centers. Here the hook possibly is but who knows a more convenient "downtown-shopping-experience". But where are the bikes? And why should average shoppers' taxes pay for these racks - ultimately to the benefit of business-owners. Rhetorical question: What have downtown business-owners ever done for customers?
People sponsor benches, so why not - elementary! - have businesses sponsor a bike rack, if we absolutely can't live without them! Supermarkets - including both incarnations of the Co-op - should install their own as a matter of course and service. Seeing that - in theory anyway - who could get more bike-friendly than gluten-free tree-huggers patronizing the Co-op? Yet I never see bicycles there either! Anyway and not to forget: Jocelyn Carver, the Co-op's manager, also is a member of the CDC wink-wink poke-poke!
Banks, mall, pink building, copshop/library, realtors, Osso. They could advertise on their racks - thus deduct costs from their taxes. And City Hall getting a rack, easily financed from Kevin Cormack's deep/dark pockets.
While the CDC saves its curiously allotted funds - ours really - for something truly magnificent.
The important thing is not to stop questioning.Albert Einstein
Bicycles, in above order:
Adam Jones - Fuessen, Germany
Izzet Kezibar - Rome, Italy
Lou Jones - Paris, France
Julian Love - Damascus, Syria
Robert To - Beijing, P.R. China
Frank Fell - Amsterdam, Holland
John Banagan - Nha Trang, Vietnam
Sunday, 2 February 2014
Re: Star Back-Page: NEWS Jan. 31. 2014
Darren Davidson, City Communications Officer -
Indeed we here need to get involved - particularly as this is a municipal-election year, and decision-making will have a way stronger flavor of political expediency. And - even according to you - already it's plain Nelson residents on one side and the fine folks in the City's Finance Department on the other.
Fine by them - not necessarily by us!
We do need to get involved and across-the-board - period - and for that to happen Nelson residents need to be invited into Council's decision-making processes - period. Feel welcome!
Therefore I suggest - once again! - that every monthly back-page carry in large font an invitation to the public to participate in the upcoming Regular Council Meeting and Committee Of The Whole (COW): dates (always Monday), times (always 7:00pm), location (always Council Chambers). Agendas available on-line by the preceding Friday late-afternoon. And direct presentation of an individual citizen's civic concerns encouraged in the COW.
A first here but - eh! - you/they're ostensibly working for us: the great unwashed!
politics is a means of preventing people from taking part in what properly concerns them.
1871 - 1945
Thursday, 23 January 2014
Why is it that when this blight is written about by those who express being against it - there usually are no pictures to illustrate their points. A picture being worth a thousand words and all that.
One can Google Alberta Tar Sands to find hundreds of them, but what with the average Canadian defined by nice - apathetic really - and this clearly not nice: who's gone there?
Saturday, 18 January 2014
Part 3 - because the City's vision-disorder and how to cure it is becoming curiouser and curiouser. What with Nelson's circle of the wise - not only suffering from but having caused the very same malady - now planning to cure it but how could they: oblivious to being the source. Diagnostics in Part 1, 2 and now 3.
The circle (and a seamlessly closed circle it is!) consists of:
City Councils - 2014, 2006, 2005
Joy Barrett - Cultural Development Committee (CDC)
Kevin Cormack - City Manager
Tom Thomson - Nelson Chamber of Commerce (NCC)
Dianna Ducs - Nelson Kootenay Lake Tourism (NKLT)
Drysdale & Mackenzie (D&M) - Experts
Nelson has to stop relying on its good looks and reputation.
Former City Councillor
Well, it hasn't!
Council, the CDC, NCC and NKLT have been limpeting to that reputation for years: true a long time ago, when we had a comprehensive Kootenay School of the Arts (KSA), Notre Dame University and hippies in living color, attitude - and energy! This gave Nelson a certain cachet as being special: youthful vibrancy in general and then the government-proposed/subsidized mainstreet-redo project in particular meant a rebirth to Nelson. Many property/business owners were brought into the '80s Baker-redo kicking and screaming: wanting to partake in possible profits but unwilling to invest towards them. Not realizing: You want to make money - you spend money first.
This mentality - unbridled greed, really - still a problem today: those in gimme-gimme mode only are holding back the whole. Preventing progress towards sustainability. Shopping local, etc. campaigns are really attempts at making business-owners happier on their way to the bank - this is not about their survival.
Anyway - reasons for the reputation are long-gone with the KSA on that scale, the university totally, hippies-as-were, and neither City Hall nor downtown-businesses actively building on the redo. Still just waiting for the money!
Still relying on said good looks - although knowing that there are lots of other comparable places - and said reputation today based on exactly what: tourism and business-investment leveling-off over years.
To (re)gain a measure of significance:
Council has been pumping expensive hot air into a resuscitation-effort of Nelson's past artiness through the CDC: giddy with self-importance and disconnected - Councillor Macdonald in charge at the giving/receiving-ends hmmm...! But dead is dead!
The NKLT - having nothing new to sell - is attempting to (re)create a reputation artificially by rewrapping the same old with - example: Head to the Kootenay Bakery Cafe with a book but prepare to be distracted by the gorgeous scenery, fascinating people and sinfully good food. Right!
The NCC is attempting to talk sense and today into members.
The lack of a proactive collective vision of sustainable growth has left the City fragmented, sluggish, predictable and wastefully pretentious. With these 4 groups clearly responsible. Talking the talk but not walking it.
Some Identification, Please!
Sooo... D&M - with the CDC, NCC and NKLT - have come-up with the idea of producing a zippy identity-badge for name-recognition to solve all Nelson's ills present-and-future. A sexy identity to lure outside interests - temporary as tourists and permanent as investors. Just like that!
In their Council presentation D&M communicate very little very poorly - bad start: if they can't communicate effectively here, how affectively will they communicate outside! They largely bumble their way through, presenting no specific plan to Council. Regardless - their not-there item is promptly handed to "staff" for further whatever as/in a foregone conclusion that it will be accepted - financed - by the City.
Now it gets complicated: The terms identity and vision are used interchangeably. Then there is talk of unified creative vision (CDC) and cohesive vision (Council). Not the same: the creative having to arise out of the cohesive. And an identity not possible without a vision first.
expects a unified creative vision to arise from an identity never mind how - because if not the CDC's work may be a bit piecemeal. While actually there has been little creative vision - period - and the CDC's output piecemeal all along. Because there is no general vision towards a possible economic benefit for Nelson. Only dealing with small artsy projects - and overall culture not developed consciously because of this narrow focus. No point to it all - aside from prettified self-gratification.
is correct saying that large amounts of money are spent without this (a) cohesive vision, but she fails to address that these large amounts have been exclusively spent by the CDC! Which she herself with the rest of Council have been providing! Because of no cohesive vision in Council Chambers! Could things get behinder than this? Yes, they could and will a bit further on!
Anyway - this I.D. is to be bought from Roger Brooks International (RBI), an American organization putting lots of similar towns on similar maps for similar increased visibility. Keeping up with the Joneses next door. Total cost of this identity-project is $33.000 to Nelson's taxpayers who have been vocal overwhelmingly against this off-the-shelf silliness. Recognizing the artificiality of an imposed identity.
2005 - 06
One may ask: If it's as simple as that to create an economic upswing - why isn't this done years ago?
Actually it is - in '05, presented in '06 - just phrased a bit differently. Initiated by the NCC. Costing the City $5.500. Only. As compared to. It's the Visitor/Tourism Assessment brought up in Part 2. Also produced by the RBI. And never implemented systematically - used as the instruction-manual it could be!
Council of '05 - with members Donna Macdonald and John Dooley - does not demand locked-in practical application as part of approval. And Council of '06 - with Bob Adams, Robin Cherbo and Deb Kozak - does not follow-up.
While item-by-item implementation of this manual over the last 8 years could have led/could still lead Nelson to a vision - and a real identity arising from the process of shaping a vision - naturally. Paid for already! With overall implementation: today's blurred vision/identity-crisis could have been avoided. Could be cured.
Unified Creative/Cohesive Vision
Seeing that both CDC's Barrett and Council's Kiss are disturbed by the lack of either vision, one might assume that the CDC would stop spending money on expensive piecemeal bits until the arrival of the name-badge - if/when!
Ignoring its confessed lack of a unified creative vision - partly the reason for shopping for an identity/vision/label/badge - the CDC, with Barrett prominent in the process! - is about to present us with artistically created bike racks in the downtown core. The project is a great opportunity for the public to see the Public Art Reserve Fund being used to enhance downtown. Allocation of $3000 initially is in the pipes - all as presented and unquestioned in the Regular Council Meeting, Jan. 6.
Who decides what's artistic? Do we need piecemeal artsy bike racks? Seeing that sturdy functionality is what's needed (if racks are needed at all) - and functionality surely is compromised by piecemeal artsy doodling. That and being moveable as planned!
Although ideally more people should and probably will ride bikes - their number will only increase somewhat: nobody giving-up cars and limited by demographics and local geography. The elderly and hills.
Intending to now install 3 - 5 (why be specific?) bike racks in the first phase of the bike rack project for spring 2014 will mean little-used (all artistically created?) racks all over the place and streams of money spent pointlessly. Still/Again!
The CDC is in the habit of handing projects to "artists" who - unrestrained by handlers - promptly get carried away as participants in their own work: never observers of themselves in the process, at the same time. This resulting in not quite producing what was proposed/is expected. Like the bridge-mural, the Ikea shower-curtains, the banners, the Baker bridge, the salmon-info frame and the hideously proportioned bench next to it.
Artistic bike racks? The horror!
Safely functional bike-racks and their placement should be handled by City Works & Parks from start to finish - as needed!
Back off, CDC! Here - and period! Stop spending money on insignificant bits and save it for one big, daring, exceptional - culturally visionary - project! Like a sternwheeler at the pier to take people on a roundtrip to the Eastshore, Kaslo, etc. - with that making sense of the Hall St. redo as direct access to the lake.
Thus: Nelson - a must!
Saturday, 4 January 2014
Having read Part 1 below first or again will make Part 2 more easily followed.
When Councillor Kozak advises me in the Committee of the Whole (COW), Dec. 16, that Roger Brooks (Mr. Star Trek) had been in Nelson 2 years or so ago, she does not (why not?) mention that the City actually has much lengthier history with him and his now Roger Brooks International (RBI) group, operating from Renton, WA. With the rest of Council (in the know?) sitting there in noncommittal homogeneous silence. On their own trajectory - the usual.
This history making the notion to superimpose an identity/vision/brand - presented undefined in the COW, Nov. 18, by Drysdale & Mackenzie (D&M), then barely probed by Council and automatically referred to Staff - manipulative of due process and clearly not for public concern.
Tourism Assessment of Nelson
History: In Feb. 2006 - 8 (eight) years ago! - RBI produces for the City the Tourism Assessment of Nelson. Its purpose: making coming here and spending money more appealing to tourists. The resulting paper is 53 pages long, simply worded - reasonable. Using Nelson's 60.000 dollar logo! It looks at Nelson from a visitor's point of view: what is and what of that works and doesn't and how to reasonably improve it.
Accompanying pictures show that at least 8 years ago other comparable places already looked the way Nelson today could/would/wishes to if it got itself motivated and organized! No great shifts necessary - just being reasonable and follow-the-breadcrumbs proactive. A step-by-step manual. How easy is that!
The complete paper can be found at
Roger Brooks Tourism Assessment
These observations/recommendations still applicable today: this paper has never been implemented, curiously is never mentioned - publicly at least - within the current identity-search!
While in their COW-presentation C&M do not have a plan - period - they do know that the logo will not be part of it.
In fact, the paper clearly has been disregarded - consultant-produced plans habitually are, regardless of costs - by the Cultural Development Committee (CDC) under Councillor Donna Macdonald, Chair, and Joy Barrett, Cultural Development Officer.
Major weirdness: now we have the same Joy Barrett and Councillor Paula Kiss clamor for a locked-in identity/vision/brand because the CDC's work has been unfocused and expensive. Which it didn't have to be: had somebody - anybody! - implemented this basic plan. And the CDC were run with more circumspection.
Implementation could have moved Nelson towards a vision thus a real identity; it could have formed a strong base - philosophical/practical and economic - for a major Nelson-attraction as tourist-destination. Over the course of the last 8 years - building from the bottom up.
While wanting to superimpose this mythical identity/vision/brand now means applying a label to something which should have been but never was actualized - a structure for it.
Ironically the Brooks Assessment also clearly explains the need for backing a label like Queen City of the Kootenays (his example!) with physical come-hither evidence. Which raises the question how Mr. Brooks will stick one on (to?) Nelson without such. Seeing that even Barrett admits to the lack of a unified creative vision and stuff a bit piecemeal here.
Also see post
The Emperor's New Clothes
2 July 2013
At His End
So now Mr. Brooks is brought in AGAIN! - to be paid AGAIN! - for running the same scenario by Nelson's identifiers AGAIN!
If integrity were a concern at his end: he would tell them to get with the program already! But who knows - maybe he's been led to believe that Nelson actually implemented his assessment and now only wants him to provide the finishing touch, a crown. But if so - didn't he check? Money!
He - in 2006 - did basic field-work quite well: observed and categorized facts and formulated solutions reasonable in cost and amount of work needed. Imposing an identity only - seemingly not so much. See Vulcan, Alberta!
At Our End
If integrity were a concern here:
Barrett would NOT attempt to have Mackenzie - her husband - become a taxpayer-paid identity-cop, alongside Drysdale - he connected to the Advisory Planning Commission (APC).
Kevin Cormack, City Employee, would NOT use his position to push this nonofficial identity-effort vigorously - expecting public funding.
Councillor Macdonald - previously the CDC-member from Council - would NOT be the CDC's Chair now. In absolute control! Not just of the CDC but the Heritage Working Group as well. And all the attention - resulting in witless funding - she can absorb.
Members of various City Committees/Commissions would NOT sit on several of these at the same time.
The Chamber of Commerce would cop to the fact that they're partly to blame for the current ethical swamp, while - ironically - having posted (but seemingly not read!) the Brooks Assessment on their own website.
Nelson Kootenay Lake Tourism - in tandem with the Chamber - would become seriously productive for real. Using their own slogan: For Real!
If integrity indeed were a concern here.
Monday, 23 December 2013
That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all lessons history has to teach. Aldous Huxley said this - and he might have been speaking about Nelson.
First we had the bizarre claim of Nelson being the most artistic little place in the universe - even more artistic that Stratford, Ontario. That info: Nelson-supplied for a book by some American who never even came here. We earnestly and gratefully ran with this silliness for years - without even reading the book! At least this guy didn't charge.
Now we have another American - not having been to Nelson either - ready to sell us an identity for a hefty fee. Over the Internet. This would mean artificially superimposing a branding-whatever on Nelson to give it name-recognition as a sales-pitch.
Like: Nelson - President's Choice!
1. Joy Barrett, Cultural Development Officer
She says We realized that unless we have a unified creative vision, what we will be doing is a bit piecemeal. Actually things have been a lot piecemeal and without creative vision for some time: all artsy optics thus far exclusively generated by her Cultural Development Committee (CDC), with gobs of money already thrown at them by an oblivious, unquestioning Council.
Of interest here should be: Often those with the least money are the most creative.
If the CDC does not have a creative vision - there's no point to them; and an outsider coming-up with this vague identity-concept will not make them any more creative. Even more basic: Barrett and her group seemingly do not know the difference between identity and vision.
2. Drysdale & Mackenzie (D&M), Experts at Something
In their presentation to the Committee of the Whole (COW), Nov. 18 - among other examples of our to be unified wonderfulness - they listed the Hall St. redo - which hasn't even happened yet and may take many years to get off the ground and the Nelson Commons - a proposed totally generic, private condo-block - which may never get off the ground at all. They clearly are scrounging!
Not to forget that Mackenzie is married to Barrett - thus he getting part of the job and the 33.000 bucks through her City-Hall connect would clearly present a conflict of interests - no matter how Mr. Cormack spins it.
3. Kevin Cormack, City Manager
Mr. Cormack made himself spokesman for this project by initiating a CBC interview on the subject - being the only Nelson representative on that news-item. This is troubling because he seems to be directly using his position at City Hall to actively promote a non-official project. Troubling: if not legally - certainly ethically. And not part of his job-description.
4. Nelson Kootenay Lake Tourism
One can see how this group would be grateful for a new angle - any new angle - to sell the place. Seeing that they are in the unenviable position of having to come-up with ever new, inventive ways to sell the same, never-changing product.
So how about: Nelson - The New, Improved!
This group has yet to realize: you want more tourists - you need to offer more! Just a new label will not change the product! Suppose Mr. Star Trek provides a label, and a tourist asks how we got it, and we say: We bought it from an American who's never been here.
5. Chamber of Commerce
For this group it's money and money only. So now they want to spend more taxpayers' money - they already are supported with it - to create more money for a special-interest group the average taxpayer does not benefit from.
A good one here would be: Nelson - For You Cheap!
6. As Captives Only: The Nelson Public
According to the Nelson Star: over 80% of comments - in the strongest response to any local issue in recent memory anyway - are against this to-be-taxpayer-funded walk to the bank by a few. In the Nelson Daily: voices against are equally strong!
The above is my presentation to the so-called Committee of the Whole (COW), Dec. 16. Within 5 minutes. You see: City Council - elected by us to do for us - condescends to allow 15 minutes total per month for an audience with the same us. Or 5 minutes per person 3 tops, never more and timed down to the second, and if there are only 2 or if there's even just 1 - it's still 5 minutes only. An unavoidable routine to look accessible without being so. Usually with an unresponsive HELLO, COUNCIL!!! - thus a committee of the whole not really.
So my aim usually is to reach those sitting behind me in the audience more than Council sitting in front of me. Thinking that maybe some will realize that it's not just okay to tell Council what we think - but it's a necessity! What with Council forming its own exclusive Whole: little room there for those who got them there, campaign-promises and all.
Here - a single in-Council's-face voice from among the many against this GMOed identity-search gets 5 minutes to make their point.
This time there is a response, and how telling it is! Councillor Kozak - magnanimously patronizing - straightens me right out. By telling me that the identity salesman in fact had been to Nelson 2 years ago or so - she isn't sure - and that this project connects with the Downtown & Waterfront Master Plan (DWMP).
This plan also largely created by an out-of-town group and Nelson's Holy Grail du jour. Something to hold on to! Something to make us feel something is happening! It's all part of the plan! Its first expression to be the unimpressive Hall St. redo - zillions of dollars and of little benefit to anyone.
The plan actually only suggests how to level some physical wrinkles - Botox them - it does not address economic considerations. Just smooth-talking the same old vibrant downtown. In essence: Baker Street. The rest of Nelson and its needs: secondary! Like waterfront-issues still not locked-in legally and for good: building-heights there, selling the lake, etc. What plan?
So here's Kozak: telling me that this identity-thing will bring new businesses and more tourists to Nelson. Thus more tax-revenue. In other words: Slap a label on it - they will come! Simple! Yet the more tax-revenue - the more money Council is throwing at non-essential feel-good bits with little economic benefit. While - at the same time - both tourism and downtown-business have leveled-off, have reached saturation under prevailing circumstances.
In the previous COW the initial public presentation of this identity-search seems curiously empty. D&M only mumble through a list of Nelson's visual assets of possible interest and the people who have been developing this idea for a while. How these assets can be bundled as an identity by these same people, and - voila! - Nelson is enticingly on the map for hordes of more tourists and relocators. No actual plan is proposed - or asked for by Council. They don't seem to need one! It will probably come down to consensus among the lot on one branding-phrase: baby-sat by Mr. American Star Trek ($12.000) and adherence to it supervised by D&M ($8.000 each) as identity-police. Plus $6.000 for incidentals like paperclips and community engagement. 33.000 to 34.000 smackeroos in total.
Why Mr. Star Trek? It seems he ingeniously branded Vulcan, Alberta Canada's Star Trek capitol. I can hardly wait....!
At the end of this bloodless presentation: whatever it is (not!) - is referred to staff for further recommendations. At this point it's clear: this whole cliquish affair - cross-pollinating hither and yon - will move through "staff" without a hitch. After all - who is staff but the same people - and their satellites - involved in pushing the project.
City Hall does not have a vision (thus identity) of Nelson because it never learned to be an observer of itself while being a participant - at the same time. It never learned to develop a clear, focused, reasonable, logical, linear vision of/for possible growth-components/potential. Vaguely seeing a need for this, it over time engaged "consultants" to come-up with possible game-plans: always expensive and promptly not implemented because artificially imposed by outsiders who are not familiar with Nelson's mindscape.
The CDC - under Councillor Macdonald in charge of heritage, arts and culture - ironically is without creative vision: partly because of City Hall's lack of one and partly because it did not clarify basic creative principles towards an economic goal in its modus operandi. It has ideas - but little imagination; they sort-of work - but don't flower. And no constraints are imposed!
A vision can't be bought! Observant, principled councilors - in their decision-making processes - expressing themselves individually and fearlessly in public; discussing their points of view with each other in public - and all with a common goal: the benefit of the greater Whole - will contribute to forming a vision. And this vision will eventually imprint itself on Nelson as - an identity.
For instant huge and lasting identity - guaranteed acknowledged nationwide - how about simply giving these $33.000 towards feeding, clothing, sheltering all Nelsonites in need!
Scene: Pierre et Gilles