Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Not Here You Don't!



Seeing that this is Local Government Awareness Week: all attentively following the gestation-process of the proposed local panhandling-bylaw would seem appropriate.
As in general would be attending Council Meetings; personally expressing opinions in Committees of the Whole (COW) and connecting through messages with Mayor Kozak, CAO Kevin Cormack and City Council. With copies to all!

Pro-active in all matters civic!



Following is a presentation made to the COW, 16 May, 2015 - here with added depth(-charges). Its premise: This bylaw is tailor-made for/by a special-interests group. It has nothing to do with panhandling as such but everything with cleansing Nelson of untouchables - the whole unsightly lot of them!
While it would be impossible to push through a bylaw forbidding all untouchables on "our" streets - democracy, human rights, etc. - it is doable to fashion a punitive panhandling-bylaw for a few and demonize all in/by the process.

This follows post
Loitering Over Coffee
6 May, 2016
directly.
   



NPD
Although this bylaw supposedly is requested by the Nelson Police Department (NPD) and Bylaw Officers - but not the Bylaw Enforcement Department as such under then Deputy Chief Burkart - at its introduction to Council no documentation whatsoever is provided to substantiate the need for such bylaw. A letter concerning it is not submitted by Chief Holland until about 6 weeks after the requested (by whom, really?) introduction - this without the Nelson Police Board's input.

Information on 24 incidents in 2015 under the Safe Streets Act - while broken down into levels of severity - does not mention any cases of panhandling or aggressive panhandling. Making talk about a needed aggressive-panhandling bylaw spurious - in view of the small number of actual panhandlers we do have to begin with.


  


NDCC
The Nelson & District Chamber of Commerce's (NDCC) Board of Directors last summer adopts a resolution in favor of an "aggressive panhandling bylaw that would regulate behavior and also where the panhandling could take place, but not make it illegal."
The NDCC laying down the law of the streets!

A survey run by the Chamber - targeting its downtown-business members for support of such bylaw - curiously results in a "not large sample size" of 22 respondents of whom about 16 are in favor. 

BUT!

This survey is indirectly contradicted in the
LETTER: Address panhandling through creative means
Nelson Star, 25 Nov, 2015

Here Mari Plamondon - owner of Wait's News, corner of Baker/Ward - writes about a meeting of the Downtown Business Association, Oct. 2015: "The topic of discussion was the proposed panhandling bylaw...... I was hesitant to attend for I was concerned that my ideas may not be shared by others. I was pleasantly surprised that in a room of close to 40 people, only 3 spoke in favor of the bylaw."
Presumably (many/most) members of this association are members of the NDCC as well. So what's with this survey!?




BCCLA
A BC Civil Liberties Association letter to the Mayor's Office reads:
"The BC Civil Liberties Association has a number of concerns about the contents of the bylaw, its necessity and its legality. We urge you not to pass this bylaw and to invest instead in measures that will address the root causes of poverty and homelessness, including mental-health support and affordable housing."
The BCCLA clearly broadens the focus, with panhandling one symptom only. As does our Street Culture Collaborative and those members of City Council opposed to this bylaw.






   














My informal survey of panhandling on Baker - Mon, May 9 to Sun, May 15, all around mid-day - finds: Mon-1; Tue-2: Wed-3: Thu-2: Fri-1; Sat-1; Sun-2.
The total is 12, but as one individual is there on 6 days: the number of different panhandlers actually is only 7 in one week. None aggressive; none obstructing anyone/anything.

Neither City Staff, nor the NPD or the NDCC have ever run a formal, detailed on-the-ground survey on the actual number of active panhandlers specifically at any given time. 

   


It is hypocritical to - on one hand - say: they have no income, so panhandling is the only option some have, while - on the other hand - prepare to cut down drastically on place/time where/when they may be allowed to panhandle. Also - bemoaning homelessness while deliberately designing the new Cottonwood Market in a way to make sleeping there impossible for those without a bed to go to!  And announcing that publicly!







This proposed bylaw is not about panhandlers in attack-mode but shop-till-you-drop without visual irritants.

It is self-serving and inhumane!




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Friday, 6 May 2016

Loitering Over Coffee






Council - this week and for the 3. time over 7 months - is dealing with a panhandling bylaw-or-not - and while ordinarily one might say get on with it already: still not having arrived at a definitive conclusion is a good thing!
A good thing what with never before these Councillors - or any before them in my experience - having been as well-prepared and thoughtful while openly expressing themselves. As all did with respectful acceptance of each other's opinions within a functioning unit and those possibly effected by their decision.


1. Time
After the proposed bylaw's first appearance - 1. & 2. Readings without a burp, last October - this blog points out its problematic authorship, lack of substantiating documentation and inconsistencies within the text of the bylaw's Request for Decision. 
The need for it seems manufactured.
The blog also poses the never-before question: When will we start talking with instead of at/about these people the bylaw is supposed to manage? handle? contain?


  
2. Time
The following month Council - nudged into realizing their unpreparedness for the topic thus far - decides to connect with various community groups, businesses, citizens for input before giving the proposal its 3. Reading. What with very few panhandlers on Baker at this time of the year, it is decided to put the bylaw on ice until spring of 2016.

Business Input
can't make the meeting tomorrow. i as a business owner for 20 years on baker st we don't want panhandling or busking in front of my store ever, it is not what i want people to have to walk through to get into my shop . it should be contained somewhere out of everyone's way . perhaps another town ?.
                                                                            Jeff Grosch
                                                                            The Sacred Ride
                                                                            213b Baker Street

A request for public participation soon leads to forming the Street Culture Collaborative, a group to look at just that: street culture - with panhandling only one expression of a much larger pernicious problem. And the need to connect  compassionately and respectfully with the vulnerable affected by pervasive socio-economic difficulties: the lack of affordable housing and support-systems across the board.
After initial exploration - constructive goals have been set by the Collaborative.



3. Time
With a 4 to 3 vote the bylaw passes this week through its 3. Reading but will not be adopted for at least another month. Adoption is not a foregone conclusion - Councillors can still change their minds/votes, and they express that here.

For an exhaustive rundown of this Council Meeting go to
Panhandling bylaw passes third reading
                                                               Nelson Star, May 4, 2016


      


Anytime
Seeing that the untouchables all look alike - with real people avoiding even just visual contact - it is easy to lump them all together: they're all drug-addicts; they're all homeless; they're all mentals; they're all panhandlers - they're all to be feared.

Yet few of them actually are panhandlers, and they certainly are not aggressive. Clearly - panhandling is not a threat to anyone (except business-interests!).

We already have the Safe Streets Act - with its consumer-focused restrictions. Hardly applicable to Smallishtown to begin with: largely duplicating the Act for only a small segment of the untouchables with this bylaw is punitive - no matter how much real people protest of course it isn't!
While it lists where panhandling is not allowed - just about everywhere - leaving little space to actually make a bit of spare-change. Forcing those who want to stay within the imposed limits to panhandle in close proximity to each other - competing for quarters!
Even though - at the same time - Mayor Kozak acknowledges that some spots are more profitable than others (will they still be permissible?), and that panhandling is the only means some of them have to get by! So what gives here!



  
VERB: Loiter
For some reason they discourage loitering outside the store, but encourage it inside.
                                                                               Wiktionary

Which pretty much says it all. It has at last been determined that a surprisingly large number of locals have no home. Being homeless probably means they have little money. So Baker may be the outside-loiterers' social life, entertainment, news-network - their distracting buzz.
Local coffee-houses - of which we have zillions - are packed at all times with inside-loiterers for their social life, entertainment, news-network - their distracting buzz.

If the outside-loiterers had a welcoming place to go to - working on their tan in the park won't cut it - they surely would. Having the mayor approve of this bylaw - which she does - is not a welcoming gesture by City Hall. Neither is having the so-called Cottonwood Park Public Performance & Market Building designed specifically to keep the untouchable public out! Announced as such by the mayor. Although even homeless loiterers have to sleep somewhere. But some of the public are just too public!

Inviting the untouchables to hang on the grass, under the trees in front of City Hall would be a welcoming gesture, indeed! Toilet facilities and everything! How about it! No?


 
(Councillor) Purcell said she wants to put the bylaw off for a year to give the Street Culture Collaborative time to do its work. They have great ideas on how to address the issues from a comprehensive community-based non-punitive response.
They already have one of their points in place with the mental health first-aid training, and they are hiring a coordinator to be in place by September. We should give them a chance to have that out-reach and change the culture.
                                                                   Same Star write-up 

This - instead of unproductively focus on just a small segment. Also - the needlessness of this bylaw is bound to cause anger among all untouchables - thus possible confrontations with bylaw officers. While we haven't had any so far and possibly won't without the bylaw's fences.

A positive outcome of this process - regardless of the bylaw's adoption or not - is the manifesting hands-on awareness of the enormity of problems facing many among us.
And - of course - Council becoming a pro-active unit!








Although the panhandling-issue in Council this week is prominently announced in the Star - there is next to no turn-out for it in Council Chambers.

So much for inside-loiterers' concerns around panhandling!





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Saturday, 30 April 2016

The EcoSociety and Big Lumber



Nelson council endorses Cottonwood Market Concept
                             Bill Metcalfe, Star 23 Mar, 2016

The budget for the market could exceed $600.000 (elsewhere 750.000) through possible participation of Kalesnikoff Lumber, the Interior Lumber Manufacturers Association and Spearhead Timberworks ($150.000 to $200.000), the Regional District of Central Kootenay and Columbia Basin Trust ($200.000 to $300.000), local businesses, in-kind and cash ($50.000 to $100.000) and other grants.



With Council not questioning the absurd nothingness of all this, just as it hadn't questioned the even less earlier declaration by City Staff to Council that an unnamed local business intends to contribute significantly to building the new structures - Star, 19 Nov, 2015. This unnamed community partner even and totally inappropriately featured prominently in the official Request for Decision asking Council for an initial $12.600 to fund a market pre-plan plan.
Kevin Cormack, CAO, in the same meeting saying that the unnamed business deals in wood.

Council ending-up approving a combined 42.600 tax-dollars for the project. After asking way too few pertinent questions!

In fact - all issues raised, questions posed in this blog and my current letter in the Star since the oddly reasoned/timed demolition of the Cottonwood Market as was should have been part of Council's job - before approving (of what precisely?) now altogether $82.600

But this post is not a focus on money as such but lumber/wood leading to trees leading to logging leading to watersheds leading to - the West Kootenay EcoSociety.



  

The EcoSociety (and Market-project) is run by David Reid - often critical of what's perceived as wanton wood-chucking - the tree-huggers' nightmare. Making him, them and the wood-chuckers strange bed-fellows, indeed! One would think!

Kalesnikoff Lumber (KL) is a major head-scratcher in this context: why would they want to get into this menage?
Weeell - even since before the first time the Cottonwood Market Replacement came before Council, the citizenry of Glade has been in strong opposition to KL's planned logging in their area: greatly concerned for the Glade watershed because of these projected activities.
For details google Kalesnikoff Glade.
Seeing that Glade is located in the West Kootenays and a possible loudly vocal critic to be found in the West Kootenay EcoSociety: putting a contribution their way may be a P.R. move. Not to be overlooked: Kalesnikoff is not even located in Nelson - while in the West Kootenays - so what could their interest possibly be in a Nelson farmers' market?

This may also be asked of the other wood-chuckers - named/unnamed - as possible financial contributors!
Council? Please?



No matter what - one needs to wonder about a conflict-or-not of principles (the old Hillary thing!) between Reid's Jumbo agendas and even just considering to accept funding from a source currently with a huge environmental-image problem.

Public Perception!




The job of the media is not to protect the powerful from embarrassment.
                                             Simon Jenkins







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Linda Hughes   

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

82.600 Dollars (So Far!)



This directly follows post
Downmarket
26 Mar, 2016
 


After handing $30.000 to David Reid a few weeks ago for something maybe possibly perhaps vaguely connected with a Cottonwood Market: City Council now adds another 40.000 bucks - partly for the same maybe possibly perhaps vaguely connected purpose and partly because of an impressive new name Reid pastes on the thing.





1. The Money
Among 36 applicants for funding from Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) - the EcoSociety - meaning Reid - receives most by far: at 40.000 4 times as much as the applicant next at the public trough. Most of the rest get way less than even 10.000. Or nothing!

There is something distasteful about this. If he had applied for less (actually he wanted 42.000!), and/or Council for a moment came out of its Reid-swoon: there could have been more for the more deserving. We need to remember that instead of the Hollywood Bowl Reid wants now - all we originally were to get from him was a modest replacement for Cottonwood (Farmers') Market as such. 

Proportional to their request most applicants receive way less than Reid, who walks with close to 30% of the total funding available.

For a detailed break-down see
Nelson council decides 2016 community initiative grants
Nelson Star, Apr 20, 2016 




2. The Name

Cottonwood Park Public Performance & Market Building

Just the name seems to suggest what I have been advocating for a long time: an exceptionally designed building housing a multi-purpose indoor cultural center - THE HEART - including a part-time farmers' market. Open every day with various regular activities, special events and a cafe. Locked during off-hours, safe. 

But beyond the misleading name the Reid/Armstrong vision is none of that. What's in a name? This name .....

Cottonwood Park
What becomes clear in their proposal is that they have expanded their rather small playground by just-like-that appropriating the Shuzenji Garden - according to Mayor Kozak: a jewel in the city - and renaming all Cottonwood Park. Or just the park.  
Yet without Jim Sawada's Garden there is no Park - period. Does he know what may happen to his labor of love?
Clearly - a basic, easily done common-sense environmental-impact study necessary to protect the jewel from Reid's envisioned crowds of revelers is a non-issue to them. This is somewhat baffling - what with Reid being the local go-to eco-guy! Or used to be! Gone Hollywood now.

Public Performance
Worth noting is that in the name (and importance!) Public Performance precedes Market. Performing in public simply is sexier than schlepping veg for dinner.
But what is a public performance? As opposed to a private performance? Is it free to the general public? What with the location's idiosyncracies: ticketing performances will be pointless. But then - will these acts do whatever unpaid? If not - who's paying them? Maybe Council.
Explanations would be good - but there haven't been any

Market
You may remember that all this started out as a replacement for the Cottonwood (Farmers') Market. Only!
But seriously - a market-replacement here is unnecessary: while we loved the Market of old - what's to love about the new market-afterthought!
The Wednesday one on Baker is just fine, and we could always have a repeat there on Saturday - maybe with a block added. Tourists would love it!

Building
Renderings/schematics do not show a single Building - an enclosed structure: roof, doors, windows - but a series of separate shelters: open all around, through-and-through, from the top down and bottom up. Reid calls them light and airy - actually they will be wet and drafty. Without seating - and their possible (while not probable) use pretty much within the same time-frame as that of the Market of old - wetcoldrainsnow making anything a no-go.




So there you have it: one man's vanity project financed by Council - bless their hearts! - with 82.600 dollars (so far) and next to no parking.






         







































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Wednesday, 13 April 2016

The Moore Challenge




Rossland wins federal voter challenge
                                     Nelson Star, 5 Apr, 2016




Before the last federal election some Nelsonites organize a Community Voter Challenge (not a federal voter challenge - as in the Star's header) in which participating communities would attempt to outdo each other in somehow increasing their voter turnout over that of 2011. Percentages.
Nelson ends-up 5th - oops! - in a total of 9, while Rossland wins. And Mayor Kathy Moore comes to Nelson to pick-up the award.

This is not where the story ends - but how it begins.
Regardless!





Late 2011
As City Councillor - Moore starts to dig into what has been perceived for several years as irregularities in municipal procedure: more specifically - she openly explores a recent case of questionable tender-or-not and connected cost-overruns at City Hall. 

Also see blog-post
Kathy Moore, City Councillor
1 May, 2014

What with Smallishtown politics being very personal, business being very personal and the personal being very cliquish: beyond the usual furtive ducking and weaving she gets little decisive support from anyone at City Hall for her Action Plan. Regardless - over time she mostly single-handed takes-on just about everybody in connection with: Mayor, CAO, CFO - the lot. It's the proverbial taking-on-city-hall - all of it! - but from the inside!
And gaining considerable in-your-face support from a public kept exhaustively well-informed by news-media - like the online version of The Castlegar News.


  

3 Jan, 2013
After a very public meeting with His Worship Mayor Granstrom - with very blunt questions backed into a corner of his own making - The Castlegar News quotes an attending citizen with "I want to publicly thank Coun. Moore for her steadfast integrity, and I heartily recommend her as role model for the rest of council," Holmes said. (Long applause)





25 Jan, 2013
Strong public support in a very vocal public-input session is instrumental in pushing Rossland Council to pass Moore's motion to request that BC's new Auditor General for Local Government (AGLG) investigate the big picture of policy, procedure and governance in Rossland that may have contributed to the ... arena scandal. As per The Castlegar News, 30 Jan, 2013

Eventually the AGLG in Victoria agrees with Moore's concerns and makes several recommendations.  




Nov, 2014
Kathy Moore is elected mayor of Rossland with 3 times the number of votes as her opponent. Granstrom - running for council! - is left in the slipstream.


  



So you see - Rossland being first in the Community Voter Challenge is no surprise. It now has a mayor whose work-ethic is stupendous - formerly as councillor simply doing what needed to be done: her job. Regardless. And a very pro-active electorate is paying attention.





 

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Downmarket



Thumbs-Up
for the 3 principled Councillors voting against the stream - after Council for months goes with the flow by looking away or approving steps within a process light on documented substance and strong on fancy talk.




The substance of this matter - a farmers' market - no more/no less - over time has become an expanded concept that will turn the market into "a regional asset." According to David Reid - its self-appointed mastermind. From farmers' market to Reidworld - the home of a music festival.
For an immediate payment of $30.000 from City Hall - meaning the tax-payer - this on top of the previous $12.600 - the same bottomless source - even though Reid initially is going to handle all fund-raising. Outside!

 


Thumbs-Down
for Mayor Kozak and those Councillors shrugging-off public input as meaningful mechanism for public participation. Unceremoniously cutting-short the time-frame for possible input with the mayor's the one (market proposal) approved by Council Monday is an overall proposal, the details of which could still be changed. Coulda - woulda! That in itself is a poor P.R. move - public perception and all - and clearly: Reid and Lukas Armstrong, Architect, have had the current proposal fixed among themselves for quite some time. A done deal - now to be fleshed-out with our 30.000.

What Mayor/Council Approve
is no longer so much about buying apples at a basic farmers' market as a circus promising to dazzle with slick tricks.

Reality Check: Have Mayor Kozak and approving Councillors been down there lately? No? Then what might their approval be based on?

Reality 1
All fantasies proposed involve many people - meaning: there needs to be enough parking for them. Yet nowhere is a number of parking-spaces given.
While bragging with up to 600 people possibly accommodated - the flip-side of that success would be the need for at least 200 parking-spaces. With the whole "workable" market-area being rather small, even smaller when all is said (figuratively) and done (literally) ..... you get the picture! A healthy crowd in the market-space - without the garden - is 200 people tops standing, walking - with kids and dogs running - around. And all having a parking-space.

The lack of adequate parking alone precludes all biggish-ticket events!



 
Reality 2
The word "park" - as "in the park" - appears frequently here. Yet there is no park! A bit of grass with a few trees - including the 2 big cedars: but no park!
While there is the generally called Japanese Garden: more accurately the Shuzenji Garden - but who can pronounce or even remember that. Not even the architect does! The garden starts close to the cedars and stretches all the way along Cottonwood Creek to the Falls.
So it seems this garden is what they mean by park.
Seeing that no seating is factored into the market-proposal anywhere - picnics in the dirt! - and even if it were: there couldn't possibly be enough - people have to sit on the many rocks in the garden. And the more do that - the more damage is done - not necessarily deliberately but by simply exhausting the garden's capacity to maintain and renew itself.
Ironically - while Armstrong goes on about the connection of vaguely origami-like unit-roofing with the Japanese Garden close by: he has no problem with having the garden trampled through/on/down.
And there's Reid with how the new design creates a pleasant interaction with the park. On a market-day there will be a feeling like you are in a park. Not just like you're in a park: you'll actually be all over it! Particularly on special-event days.

This just shortly after Kozak officially recognizes Jim Sawada for having created a jewel in our city with this garden.

 



People's main focus - while attending the Cottonwood Market of old - is to shop and leave. Staying longer for an event has a different dynamic: different provisions need to be made for people's comfort and enjoyment of the facilities while being and moving around there. Including: being able to take a load off their feet!

Therefore the garden needs to be closed-off to be protected.

While Reid and Armstrong are beside themselves and each other with the possibility of attracting/squeezing-in multitudes - they are not considering the environmental impact any of their envisioned tricks must have. Never mind just using common sense! Basics, Mr. Architect! Worst-case scenarios, Mr. EcoSociety!





Reality 3
While Kozak says Yes, we wanted to make sure it is not used for sleeping over or for unsavory or illegal activities - she does not propose how in reality we are to go about dealing with this triple-threat.


To make sure - entry/exit down/up the slope right next to stalls couldn't be any easier! - how about barbed-wire-topped fencing and watchtowers around the whole? A single well-guarded in-and-out gate? Rent-a-cops with bullhorns everywhere 24/7? Big scary dogs? Strip searches? Bag checks? And at night: laser-triggered floodlights and sirens? More big scary dogs? Loud repetitious mall-music? Surprise no-nonsense crack-downs?
 
Most helpful during and after the proposed festivals, trade-shows, theatre, music, etc. with hundreds attending. When being unsavory and illegal is common. With getting high, doing it and eventually passing-out.

So we also need a fashion-police-force trained in differentiating between undesirables and real people.

You've seen the movies; you know the drill. And if none of this does it - we can always get tickets for their night-bus to Vancouver! And watch them get on! 




Bottomlines
According to the Star Reid said: the plan was developed with the help of a committee of market vendors. Horse-puckie!
A committee is "a body of people subordinate to a deliberative assembly." No deliberative assembly - here all market-vendors (unless Reid is the assembly)! - ever got together and approved a committee for making unilateral decisions for the Whole!
A couple of camp-following market-vendors at the EcoSociety do not comprise a committee.

Ultimately - what was supposed to be a basic farmers' market may cost close to a cool million. How much beyond the 42.600 so far is the tax-payer to get stuck with?




This fairie-dust proposal is a manipulation of the approval-process by Armstrong & Reid, clumsily attempting to get themselves on the map for reasons unconnected to local needs.

All this is what Mayor Kozak and (partial) Council approve (of).  
And feed.




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