Saturday, 19 November 2016

Nelson (Star): No Comment!

Following is a message sent to
Black Press, owner of the Nelson Star
18 Nov, 2016

David Black, Chairman / Rick O'Connor, President -

While reaching you through the Black Press website would seem the most straightforward - reader-friendly - way: that process in itself is an example of how divorced your home-base seems to be from the general readership out there.
I am expected to open a Microsoft Account just for this purpose! Whatever that may be, whatever that may entail - whatever I may be expected to hand-over of myself. 
So I pass!

Yet this presents an interesting intro to my reason for writing to you: not being able to post comments in the Nelson Star, read those posted and email site-items.

Triggered by an immediate reaction - whether reasonable to others or not - they provide a look into how a/this community thinks, inter-connects. In Nelson they are the most direct gauge of the public's concerns, in/through - according to a survey - the most accessed local source of info: the Star.


Posting Comments
Only Facebook subscribers can post comments, but those who are not are invited to post also by signing-up - first! While the considerable number of non-subscribers probably are that for specific reasons, and the number of drop-outs from Facebook seemingly is growing: opinions of those readers clearly are not important to Black Press. Curiously - neither seems to be their advertising-generated dollar: ultimately the life-blood of a publication such as the Star.


Reading Comments
Reading them - this possibly even generating comments on comments - encourages, may shape the public's direction. Thus it can be a valuable tool for decision-makers at Nelson's City Hall, they frequently out of touch with real-time public sentiment.

Unable to post comments for ages as a non-subscriber to Facebook, for close to 2 months now I also have not been able to access comments to just read on the Star's website.
Subscribers seem able to - yet not for all is getting there a simple matter of just clicking on comment-numbers either: with no fixed sequential pattern and variations between electronic delivery-systems.

Then there is the problem with emailing website items. Following all instructions correctly, sending items leads nowhere - literally: the don't arrive!

The Star editor briefly responds to my concerns with: whatever it is, it needs to be and will be fixed in Vancouver - but they are busy! The Star publisher has not responded, neither has your "webeditor" in Vancouver.

Considering that Black Press advertises itself as "Community News Media" - this community would appreciate if you were to make an actual contribution to it by fixing the elementary problems above.
When you are not too busy.
In the meantime, you are losing readers' interest here (only?). Not a good idea, particularly this close to Christmas.

With concerns -

Claus Lao Schunke
Nelson BC

It is not clear whether problems-as-such originate with Facebook or in-house. But seeing that currently this non-subscriber has no access whatsoever to commenting/comments - while subscribers have, no matter how messed-up the process, this does lead to far-reaching - literally - Facebook implications.
In-control Facebook is uncomfortable - in-control Facebook out-of-control is scary!

San Francisco (AFP) - Facebook accidentally declared its founder Mark Zuckerberg and many other users dead on Friday, acknowledging after fixing the problem that it had committed "a terrible error."
"For a brief period today, a message meant for memorialized profiles was mistakenly posted to other accounts," a Facebook spokesperson told AFP.
Media reports indicated that some two million errant memorials were posted on profile pages.
           Zuckerberg among Facebook users mistakenly declared 'dead'
                                                        Glenn Chapman, Nov 11, 20116


David Black, Chairman - Black Press
dblack @

Rick O'Connor, President, Operations BC - Black Press
ricko @

Eric Lawson, Regional Publisher (Nelson) - Black Press
eric.lawson @

Colin McGarrigle, Editor - Nelson Star/Black Press
editor @   

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Bears in Railtown

Part 2 of a look at Railtown as-is and by-design. Part 1 can be found directly below this post.

City Hall Plaza
The space in front of City Hall is referred to in the largely ignored
"Sustainable Waterfront and Downtown Master Plan"
of several years ago, under
3.6.2 Proposed Plazas
"... an ideal location and size to become the City's primary outdoor living room."

This blog in several posts before/after the Plan encourages the City to make the Plaza actually representative of how it usually likes to advertise itself: certainly not as an uninspired/uninspiring space, with 8 poorly-cared-for-sort-of-dead flower-boxes for years en garde between steps and entrance.
City Staff pass by them at least twice a day.

Opposite is the obligatory monument to local war-dead. Actually the Plaza's core - deadzone. Of real interest in this could be: there are several small memorial plaques attached to the obelisk, below local/area names of those killed in 2 World Wars.
One for the Korean War (no names) and one for the Boer War (no names) in Southern Africa. The latter between the as usual bent on expanding colonies no-matter-how British and Boer settlers of Dutch descent, without a regular army and with indigenous slaves. Apartheid later institutionalized down there. The war is particularly brutal on/for both sides: 27.927 Boer civilians - mainly women and children - die in British-run "concentration camps" from diseases, malnutrition and exposure. Along with 20.000 indigenous Africans of the altogether 115.000 also forcibly kept in such camps. About 26.000 Boer POWs are shipped abroad - but not to colonial adjuncts Australia, New Zealand and Canada, all 3 having troops fighting for The Empire and the hell of it. Seemingly a few from Nelson, too - then at the height of its racist bluster.
City Staff pass by this show of Heritage gone sideways also at least twice a day.


While the Plaza could be a neutral space for rotating expressions of Nelson's finest in arts and constructive ideas now.

If we have the former - seeing that the quality of paintings (finally hung!) on the 2nd Floor desolation row couldn't possibly be as good as it gets in the Queen City. I mean - seriously!?

So the Star reporting that a sculpture by an indigenous artist has been placed in this Plaza - its name "Mother Bears Pray for Earth Healing" - comes as an uplifting surprise. The artist's name is Steinhauer (a German name, approximately and appropriately meaning "He Who Works With Stone").

I don't notice the sculpture: usually - like most - coming down the steps at their left and leaving on the same side, close to the struggling flower-boxes. Until one day remembering and looking around: to my surprise I see the Mother Bears on the other side, directly next to the steps, ducking below the - while generic in appearance loaded with intention - war-dead marker. Their colors blending into those of the ground, walls and memorial to make the Bears a sombre experience. Totally grey on grey in grey death.
Good enough not being good enough: a more supportive place would be on the grass, under trees, with space to be - and pray. Easy to be noticed there by all - particularly urgent as this is the first public-art piece in Nelson ever with artistic/spiritual depth in equal measure. 
The sculpture here seems to indicate positive movement.
A direction!


Then the Star announces: the piece has been moved to the Nelson & District Chamber of Commerce (NDCC) in Railtown. Bummer! After all not a movement of intent towards artistic expression with depth in the Plaza - but only on loan to City Hall after the Castlegar Sculpture Walk and now for sale at $100.000. Whether the NDCC pays this or how much or whatever the arrangement is: we don't know.
And the City Hall Plaza returns to bland.

I decide to track these Bears to the NDCC through Railtown - post-plan and post-market now that that is closed for the coming 6 months. Always will be - no matter what kind of market is put there somewhere for how much. Half the price for half the year?

For now in Railtown - with what there is over time solidified in a workable pattern, even though not necessarily efficient today within a larger context - buildings and streets have been accepted as are.
But the many cars now driven, parked and sold everywhere there will multiply with every bit of new development: light-industrial - parking; shops - parking; condos - parking; parks - parking; market - parking. Plus driving to/from. So with traffic bound to consistently increase, "improving" Railway St. by slowing it down - for instance - seems counter-intuitive!
While the extent of development-plans is commendable: their photos of example-possibilities are of/in locations with more space or little context - not within jumbled confines similar to pokey Railtown. Sketches of how things could be look grown-up and spectacular - though Pleasantville idealized.

And that's just how the Hall St. thing - the thus far only manifestation of the Community Plan - is sold to the public: photos, sketches and talk of leisure-walks through green spaces with art and benches down to the lake, prompted in writing as a "pedestrian friendly corridor with civic spaces" - and a Design Review Committee, run by Kevin Cormack, City Manager, in charge. 
But here we are with the real-time redo! 
Considering that Hall ends-up in free-fall, without hitting (the) bottom yet: who at City Hall approves piece-by-piece work of significance in Railtown? Is it Council? This time? Seeing they are never even near the loop on Hall.


While it's actually doubtful that more weighty Railtown development takes place soon - on "brownfields" needing to be nursed back to health ("earth healing") big-time. Why would anyone invest here, unless the area offers a large-scale people-magnet, consistently drawing local/out-of-town crowds. Only this ultimately to provide incentive for investment. Which unconnected bits and pieces can't.

A radical rethink makes a cultural center (literally/figuratively) - with adequate parking directly attached - the core of Railtown, from which development "organically" radiates. They'll beat down the door to invest when given a reason with legs! A cultural center provides that, puts Nelson as a whole on the map in a new way!
This rethink must start at City Hall. With its Plaza out front as Step #1!


CPR Station
I see the Mother Bears right across from its entrance - more ducking than praying. Parking to their left - parking to their right. In fact - parking pretty much all around: the Bears' new home actually is a narrow island with parking-spaces chomped out of it on the CPR side. On top of that (them!) the 2 soon to arrive locomotives - just a bit to their right behind them - will totally dwarf, overpower the Mothers. With nowhere near enough space for them to breathe, connect with the sky and pray quietly choo-choo! Trapped!

Parking at the CPR Station is triple-tier and understandably so:
Council-approved parking: Beware - for a select few only, 24/7! Death for transgressors!!
Driver-claimed reserved parking: Homemade Reserved signs on sticks. Anyone who needs to park here - go for it!
Free-range parking: Wherever anywhere around here, as has been done by many downtown day-workers for ages. 

Not by design - much of this post ends-up being about parking in Railtown. Bottomline: without space allowed for sufficient project-by-project parking as critical components - there can only be little development. Theoretically - putting all pieces of land for absolutely adequate parking in suggested projects together adds-up to a relatively huge chunk of Railtown real-estate. With consequences for development not realistically addressed in the Plan.

Example: It suggests that market-overflow (starting-off with overflow already!) can park at the Station. This is the worst kind of band-aid planning! Aside from the fact that there is little reliably available parking now, even with no market and few tourists.


With the Mother Bears - Pray(ing) for Earth Healing - hard-pressed to just make it themselves in this car park!

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Is there a Market for this?

This look at a (the) market down there is the first of two at what's going on in Railtown: now that its overall plans for plans have solidified into which possible option may eventually be of interest to developers. Usually for the same limited spaces/buildings - with "could" pretty much as far as it goes.
So, relax: nothing is happening/will happen for some time - if at all.

Except for a sort-of-market at one end maybe.

And The Chamber Theme Park at the other, with the Chamber of Commerce now the only one proactively running any Railtown-by-design activities: focused on itself with never flagging energy and limitless funds.

I am getting ahead of myself.

Market: Now
Out of necessity I start going downhill to the tent-setup when the Baker Market finishes for the year. The Baker Market - with colorful, energetic bustle right downtown: the only farmers' market making sense in Nelson. And there being absolutely no valid reason for not starting it earlier and not continuing until Mid-November.
I have heard from vendor/shopper-friends - and find out when I start going - downhill has little to recommend it now: fewer vendors and some packing it in earlier this year, fewer shoppers, paths muddy and the toilet a breathtaking disgrace. A few truckloads of cedar-chips and even just a modicum of attention to the toilet-facilities would have meant a great improvement for the indeterminate duration - but basic maintenance is not sexy!
Altogether the mood is rather subdued, and if it weren't for the Baker Market closing down some weeks ago.....! The buildings of yesteryear may have been in poor shape - but they anchored the market, gave it traditional purpose. Missing now!


Market: To Be
According to the Star, Oct. 23, 2016, City Manager Kevin Cormack said the city got a grant (what grant and how much?) to do the move, and has worked extensively with the EcoSociety (which runs the market) on the plan for the move. Move into what - and who at the EcoSociety, seeing that David Reid - main ego behind the project - quit as its director some time ago?
"This is more than a market, it is a park amenity," he said (Even to Cormack this is not about a farmers' market any longer - but what pray tell is a park amenity? Whatever it is - it will be larger than the park!), emphasizing that the new structures would be used for more than just the market (like what exactly?), and he said the plan is too far along to slow it down now. While this could be a way of keeping questions from the uninitiated - like Council and the public - to a minimum - it could also mean that the profit-pie has already been divided, with pieces (very) quietly handed to those found most deserving.

True: Neither Cormack nor the EcoSociety has kept the public informed of what is/will be going on down there. Their game clearly is not ours! But also true: The situation is whatever it may be largely because Council - while having had at least 4 major opportunities to slow down or stop the game altogether - has failed to do so by not raising the questions above and below.

This post will attempt to acquaint/reacquaint Council and the great unwashed with speed-bumps along the way.


1. Missed Opportunity
When a reincarnation of the Cottonwood Market first comes before Council - they without hesitation hand 12.600 taxpayer-bucks to the EcoSociety for a pre-plan plan. Few questions asked, no detailed explanations demanded. Even though the EcoSociety - a volunteer-run organization of treehuggers - aside from keeping the then-market on automatic - has no qualifications for creating such project from scratch. But - big but! - there is its name: 1 of our 2 sacred cows: Co-op and EcoSociety.

David Reid - still director then - takes on raising a few hundred-thousand. On his own! Handled!
Eventually the Cover Architecture Collaborative through Reid - unprompted by Council - comes up with a basic wish-list of points to possibly be included in a grand design. This list for our 12.600.

The buck should stop right here - with Council: establishing parameters for the project's function, rules for accountability within the gestation-process - overall control! Instead it very unimaginatively throws more and more bucks at the thing. And here it is/we are: nowhere!


2. Missed Opportunity
With no outside funding in sight after all - Reid asks Council for and promptly gets additional 30.000 taxpayer-bucks.
He later lists Kalesnikoff Lumber among several possible - not declared though! - contributors. Interesting here from an eco-treehugging angle: Kalesnikoff at the time is very unpopular in Glade, because their planned logging in a particular area there may threaten a watershed. One would think this to be right up the EcoSociety's raison d'etre - but apparently it isn't. Moneyhuggers!

More funding-goodies: Cormack introduces an anonymous "community business partner" who wants to "participate" in and "intends to contribute significantly to building the new structures." How (much) he wants to participate (in return) for his significant contribution is not divulged. This could get dodgy as Cormack clearly must have an in-depth relationship with his outside-business-partner in City Hall affairs.
Connecting rather large dots through the relevant Star write-up: Councillor Robin Cherbo asked if the new structures could be made of wood. Cormack responded that could be an option and that the unnamed business that has stepped forward "deals in wood."
No bells, no red flag, no nothing from Council!

Currently word on the street has it that the market-project is stalled due to a lack of sufficient funding.


3. Missed Opportunity
Cover Architecture comes up with a market-design totally lacking rudimentary weather-scenarios. Roofs of individual units afford little shelter from sun, wind and rain for vendors, shoppers, produce, merchandise. Also - their shape has rainwater run to the lowest point in their lengthways center-fold. Meaning: water will gush down unhindered from that fold, probably from both ends of unconnected units. This in turn meaning: anyone walking from unit to unit in the rain will have to dodge 2 waterfalls per unit multiplied by the number of units walked under. For shelter.
(See renderings here)
How up to 600 envisioned concert/festival-revellers are to be sheltered in-case (there won't be seating for anyone either) is not addressed.

Council and Staff - made aware of basic design-shortfalls - seemingly have taken no position. In fact -

4. Missed Opportunity
- after/with all this Council hands another 40.000 bucks to heaven knows who's in charge: an obscene almost third of Nelson's Columbia Basin Trust allotment for the whole year. 

So that's where we are now with this market-or-what: not knowing who's in charge; not knowing about necessary radical design-changes; not knowing when; not knowing about the facility's purpose - not knowing the how expensive eventually to taxpayers point of all this!


Friday, 21 October 2016

One disappointed Canadian! Sorry, too!

"Freeland sounds despondent note amid failed effort to rescue Canada-EU deal"

Chrystia Freeland, Int'l Trade Minister:
"I personally have worked very hard, but it is now evident to me - evident to Canada - that the European Union is incapable of reaching an agreement, even with a country with European values such as Canada, even with a country as nice and patient as Canada.
"Canada is disappointed, and I personally am disappointed, but I think it is impossible. We are returning home. At least I will see my three children tomorrow at home."

                             Mike Blanchfield
                              Canadian Press, Oct. 21, 2016

We are a nice country I'm sorry with colonial values I'm not so sorry about and not at all apathetic like some say but patient.
I just want to go home and fix dinner I'm sorry. 
Maybe have a cold one!
That's all I want!     

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

The most telling way of gauging opinions/trends among the local great unwashed is through their comments posted directly to articles, letters and opinions on the Nelson Star's website.

Multi-level community-newspapering.

For weeks now, while posting comments through Facebook - the only means possible but that's another story - is still possible: accessing comments directly below articles has not been. Regardless of thoughtful preparation and length: comments have been pointless for an unreasonable period. 
Public opinion? Weeelll ...
To further complicate: while comments to Star material are posted through Facebook - this does not mean they automatically appear on Facebook as well. For appearance on Facebook they have to be posted on Facebook directly. Which way disconnects them from website articles when read: it lacks immediacy and is the kind of thing that has not-so-smart-phone-addicts bump into trees in yet another story.  
I'm sooo appy!


Teasingly - sometimes numbers of comments show momentarily: when we went through the LV Rogers thing one showed over a hundred! But clicking on the number - nothing!

The Star has been aware of this and shrugs what can we do it's all happening-though-not in Vancouver. Clearly - Black Press has problems: I mean - they need editors all over the place at least in Castlegar and Fernie.

"What we've got here is failure to c'mun'cate!"
                                                           Cool Hand Luke


Sunday, 18 September 2016

City Hall Contracting for Nelson Commons

Following is a presentation to the Committee of the Whole (COW), 19 Sep. 2016, regarding a Nelson Commons Housing Agreement Bylaw between the City and Nelson Commons (NC). Clarifying thoughts have been added for those only vaguely aware of its origin and purpose.

Eyes-wide-shut - the City now is a part-time, unpaid contractor for a commercial, privately owned real-estate development, to act as NC's real-estate agent for 3 condos over the next 25 years. The proof is in the doing - while the City's 26-page bylaw! - fashioned just for this purpose! - warns itself of the very same realtor-thing! Oh, City Hall!

Doing: to the tune of even paying $1 and $10 respectively for the privilege. As far as can be ascertained by outsiders - the City's participation is of no benefit whatsoever to it - even less Nelsonites in general - but certainly of time- and money-saving convenience to NC.
These 11 bucks may seem insignificant - but the principle and amount of tax-payered work by the City are not insignificant at all. Time and energy more appropriately applied to community-issues.

The 3 condos as focus of City Hall's inappropriate work for NC - now routinely referred to as "affordable housing" - whatever that means - even "starter homes" - are a long and winding road from the Vancouver City Savings Credit Union (Vancity) originally making its financial participation in this condo-venture contingent on 3 condos sold as SOCIAL HOUSING - period! NC was quick to give this a tree-hugging Co-op spin. And it worked: City Hall got itself hooked to appear socially conscious - with NC promptly changing tack as soon as Council had agreed to work all this.

Over time nobody at City Hall ever asking - publicly anyway: How did we get to be their gofer?

With the City ostensibly keeper of the keys - NC sold 2 of the 3 condos on terms originally put forward by itself - approved over a year ago by Council: without them doing much homework on this at the time.
More recently realizing the advantages of homework after all, thus finally, belatedly putting this bylaw together - with a lot of to-and-fro to definitively lock-in resale terms 'til kingdom come - has resulted in an untidy structure: 2 condos on these terms and 1 condo on whatever. The latter still dithered over until "... brought back to Council in October 2016."

In the future one set of terms conceivably becoming more advantageous over the other shows a remarkable lack of foresight and social consciousness. Very untidy indeed: fairness and all that! But simply remedied by applying the same terms to all 3 condos. Now!
No matter what/how - all coming/still to come from much additional tax-payered work for ever more people at City Hall - of benefit only to NC.

Not addressed in this bylaw: what - if anything - is to follow if the income of buyers rises - on/under the table - to above the stipulated income-ceiling? Surely to be expected, what with people usually striving to improve their finances.
The City's Request for Decision does state - under Benefits, without definition - that buyers may "... potentially move up the continuum as their circumstances improve." Regardless of the possible nature/volume of this continuum - seemingly moving up in their cheap condos!
What a deal!
And who's to know? Will City Hall surf bank/tax-statements - and if it does find out: What?

Also left unaddressed for these condos - openly at least - are their surely significant strata-fees. Will the owners pay no, partial or full fees? Thus not at all, somewhat exactly or completely responsible to the whole?

But City Hall will be instrumental in foreclosures! More odious yet - I quote the bylaw: The owner (here NC) acknowledges that a breach of the occupancy restriction ... may be a breach of the City's Zoning Bylaw which is punishable by fine and imprisonment under the Offence Act.

City Hall has no business in any of this now and in the future, when without fail more issues will present themselves - rather be presented. Tax-payers ought to voice strong opinions on the City allowing getting sucked into this nonsense on their dime - literally and figuratively.

Would the City be involved at all if NC didn't have the umbilical Co-op connection?
Bottom-line: NC - a curiously unfinished-looking, chaotically unattractive condo-development, in the heart - poor heart! - of the city yet - is an incorporated company ostensibly separate from the Co-op. Yet over time the Co-op's tree-hugging halo has been tightened more and more around the City's decision-making consciousness.

And every squeeze more successful, starting with the previous Council.
The most recent example being adoption of this bylaw over dinner.

Pierre et Gilles
Berndnaut Smilde  

Wednesday, 24 August 2016


"Dr. Thomas Edge says it is very difficult to tell for sure if E. coli at a beach is caused by geese or not."
Also "... geese usually drop droppings on the sand along the waterline ..."
                                                               Nelson Star, Aug. 24, 2016

Which they, ducks and gulls do copiously - have been doing for many years - along the waterline of the Lakeside Park beach. Usually at night, while resting there. Meaning: they then move little - and stuff piles-up!
Do geese dream?

As we don't seem to have markedly more geese now than in previous years - provided E. coli testing is done using the exact same methods under the exact same conditions in the exact same locations - the question needing to be asked is: if geese are the source - what caused the sudden change to their innards at this particular time? In relation to last year when - ostensibly! - conditions and process were the same. And we didn't have this spike!

It seems improbable that an E. coli spike materializes out of nowhere - in one specific location yet - without a specific contaminator. And if human participation is eliminated - how difficult can this be to figure out?

This observant non-scientist is in the park very early most mornings - the experts are neither nor.

Droppings along the waterline usually disappear soon after beachers arrive with kids: splashing/running about. Rain and wavelets will cause the same. So - obviously a sizeable amount of (dispersed) droppings stays in sluggish shallows close to the shore - what with the process repeating daily as long as weather/water-conditions don't change drastically.
Is that where testing takes place, Erin Brockovich? Also comparing year-to-year population-numbers, movement- and feeding-patterns? Which we probably don't because we don't have them?

Once (and for all) determined that geese indeed are the culprits: why not just get a City worker to pooper-scoop the contaminants along the shoreline every morning!
10 minutes!

In the meantime - we're left uncomfortably informed of seemingly spotty-dodgy field- and lab-work. Everybody's guessing! Or generalizing: Dr. Edge is not local.
How about the old scientific comparison/elimination/isolation-thing!

And while you're at it - how about making feeding of all waterfowl illegal - with stiff fines attached!

"Do something about it!"