Monday, 8 February 2016

Fernie: The Arts Station and How It's Done!

ARTiculate - Fall/Winter 2015-16
Jesse Bell

There is a historic railway station in downtown Fernie that has been transformed into a bustling community space, helping turn this small mountain town into a hub for all things arts and culture.
The Arts Station, with a glorious Rocky Mountain backdrop and a vibrant atmosphere, is a quaint cultural space - a home, really - that celebrates its 25th anniversary.

Built in 1908 as an original Canadian Pacific Railway Station, the building survived neglect and vandalism, avoided demolition and was (moved and) refurbished in 1991 by volunteers. A space for newcomers, artists and art-lovers to gather, The Arts Station has offered live theatre, workshops in photography and pottery, quilting and painting ever since.

Today the station is painted soft blues and yellows, surrounded by a wraparound deck and beautiful barrels of flowers in the summertime. The town name is painted proudly on the roof of the building.

The main lobby acts as a gallery, with new art featured monthly. The original ticket office is the space of an energetic restaurant, the Blue Toque Diner, and the 100-seat theatre - at one time used as a baggage room for train passengers - brings in both local and out-of-town musicians. The basement is a space for musicians and potters, while quilters, painters, weavers and other textile enthusiasts have the upstairs studio.

The station is home base to the Fernie & District Arts Council, which works tirelessly to bring art and community together, playing host to summer socials and supporting various cultural ventures year-round. The motto of The Arts Station is Create + Connect which it continues to do with great pleasure.


Differences in repurposing the station in Fernie and Nelson are striking.
The Arts Station's focus is to give to the community: multi-discipline socio-cultural development in an imaginatively used setting. Fun!
The NDCC Station's focus - thus far - is financial profit in an underutilized setting. Fun taken to the bank!

What Fernie - considerably smaller than Nelson - and its Fernie & District Arts Council saw 25 years ago was the need for a cultural centre downtown - a heart.
I have previously proposed - and propose here again - a similar place as the centre of Railtown. Giving it - thus Nelson - a cultural heart-beat. Its sound then drawing like-minded, visionary investment. Providing a reason.
By their nature and focus - neither the NDCC Station nor a part-time Cottonwood Market can be/do that for Railtown. A weaker pulse.

In support of THE HEART I am quoting from post
14 Dec, 2015

is a multi-purpose meeting-place of exceptional design and function in Railtown.
Among others it facilitates:
Easily convertible meeting-, class-, in/outdoor-performance space
Rental/lease based on specific need/time
Easily convertible recording-, studio-, gallery-space
Rental/lease based on specific need/time
Easily set-up/taken-down Cottonwood Market
Lease permanent part-time
Lease permanent part/full-time

Nelson lacks spaces such as these: providing/combining them all gives cultural focus, makes THE HEART a continuous draw for locals and tourists: users and visitors.

Cottonwood Market at THE HEART
Several convincing arguments present themselves for making the market part of this centre - the whole City-owned/supervised under one roof.
What locals and tourists appreciated about the old market was its homey-folksy-funky ambiance, its visible history - appreciated regardless of parking-and-whatever-else issues. This ambiance will be lacking in a sanitized, stand-alone, parking-for-days farmers' market. 
It is naive to assume that the reincarnation can enjoy the same popularity - ever!
The centre and market under one roof are of symbiotic benefit/support: crowds coming for one are there for the other.
While a stand-alone market only operates on a part-time basis: off-time upkeep and security must be of major on-going concern.
There is no detailed documented relationship between Council and the EcoSociety concerning a new market - aside from Council (too hastily!) approving $12.000 of tax-payered funds for a pre-plan plan(!?!). To be generated by a hitherto silent private company: while local - not introduced in Council. Since that cash-transfer: nothing!
This pre-plan plan - as a basis for the real thing - by now should have been presented to Council for approval. Because - even though a definitive design (supposedly!) eventually has to be approved - once presented with that - clearly rather later than sooner - Council will hardly say no. The EcoSociety's pressure-clincher then undoubtedly: Too late for changes! The market must be up NOW!!!

Not so: the market can easily be held on Baker St. until its new quarters within the cultural centre are ready!

Has Council repeated the Hall St. fiasco: signing-off on hear-say only - and now/then what?
Funding is more prudently channeled into an all-inclusive cultural/community centre - quite naturally including a farmers' market.
Combining infra-structure - including roads/parking - for THE HEART/market allows for a more frugal use of available space.
Leaving the best bits of City-owned Railtown property to a very part-time, very privately run City-market means NO! to other possibilities.


With a cultural/community centre: Fernie has been "there" for 25 years - Nelson finally must (and has an opportunity to) get "there" now! An advantage THE HEART has: it can conceptualize from scratch - no limits! And while downtown, there are green, quiet outdoor-possibilities: essential!


Baffling: Nelson's cultural development ambitions - while concentrating efforts (and copious funding) on unconnected bits-and-pieces of limited shelf-life - have never yet envisioned a permanent home-base.

It is not good enough to leave planning of Railtown to a very large group of individual profit/ego-driven stakeholders - with their diverse interests roughly coming together. And then needing all that to be (seamlessly?) smoothed-out by an outside-consultant. This can only end in a compromise-plan: with its results - dictating Railtown's development for years - we may come to regret down the line.

I suggest that those guiding the planning-process of Railtown connect with the City of Fernie, the Fernie & District Arts Council and other smallish towns with cultural centres. And the impact these centres have on the towns' development thus tourism.
Then plan according to founded-in-sensibility example - instead of inexperienced-in-this very special interests.


Time to grow(-up) - think bold!

All images - except that of the hearts - are of The Arts Station

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Xin Nian Kuai Le!

In 2008 - a few months after I return from living in China for years - I begin producing the program Chinese Feed on Kootenay Co-op Radio (KCR). Experiences, observations, reflections. Reliving memories while adjusting to being back. Still feeling very much at home there - not so much here yet.

Only towards the end of this cycle of 32 weekly chapters do I find out that the building from which the radio-station broadcasts used to be a Chinese laundry and that it is located in what until fairly recently is Nelson's Chinatown.
This builds a bridge - finally gives me more a feeling of belonging!
The stereotypical incorrectness of the former - nobody is referring to the Italian drycleaner - and in all my time with the program but nobody having brought-up a Chinese connection: rattle me. How can they - rather: why won't they!

Getting info about the Chinese part in Nelson's history from the Chamber of Commerce (NDCC) Visitor Info Centre just down the street from the station - Hall/Lake - seems a simple step. But the person with whom I speak there knows nothing about Chinese in earlier Nelson nor has recorded info on them. This - ironically - while the NDCC is located in the middle of what used to be - Chinatown!
Checking their History webpage: not a single Chinese! With the NDCC version of Nelson's history ending in 1897 - when Nelson officially becomes Nelson. At the bottom of the page promising its history is To be continued. Waiting for the past.

One can only hope - because in the following year - 1898 - it becomes clear how the only real Colonials - WASPS - then truly feel about Chinese in their midst.
While physical colonial manifestations of today's single-focus Nelson Heritage then are possible only by the back-breaking, poorly paid labor of have-nots. Who neither bring heritage nor are part of heritage here today. General silence on that!

Questions about unawareness at best and rejection at worst and why and how bring me to my next radio-program

The Chinese Community of Nelson-As-Was
How Did It Get Here?

and the following:

Nelson Tribune - May 28, 1898
With the growing sense of permanence came a need for respectability and the concomitant necessity of removing the Chinese community from the Vernon St. lots they leased from the CPR to blocks 61 and 71 of the less desirable Lake St. area.

These CPR Flats become Chinatown: the only place where local Chinese then are allowed to live, together with all other undesirables. Cleansing Nelson.
Chinese literally driven out of home and business to start over again in an area close to the lake - Lowerhill - parts of which regularly flood with a mix of lake and Upperhill sewage. Permission to then be allowed to move usually not granted by the CPR.
Eventually Chinatown becomes a hub for all Chinese working in the area - coming to shop and socialize - and others passing through to find work. Socially shunned by Colonials - here they can be with their own for company/comfort and news from home.
In numbers ever fluctuating - sometimes the local+area+transient population amounts to close to 1000 of a total Nelson population of about 4000.
So whites - scared of Chinese in those numbers - instead of attempting to connect - go into all-out defensive-offensive mode. The following Editorial blatantly gets down to Colonialism at its most disturbing:

Nelson Weekly Miner - Feb, 1902
If the Laurier government wished to act in accordance with the views of almost the entire population of British Columbia, it will prohibit absolutely the immigration of Chinese and arrange to kill off - if any legal way can be divined to accomplish that act - every mother's son of the almond-eyed pigtail wearer, living at present in any country inhabited by white men. He is a filthy, immoral piece of human machinery - not a man in the sense in which the word is used by civilized peoples. He lives like a dog, contributes nothing towards the up-building of the country and poisons every community in which he locates himself.

This while Chinese fetch/clean/cook for Upperhill Colonials; feed miners in their restaurants and wash clothes in their laundries - neither of which real men will do; work in mines and lumber. And keep Nelson healthy with cheap, fresh produce grown in a belt around it: from Cottonwood Creek up to eventually the Burlington Northern Railway, across and down into Bogustown - now Fairview - to the Safeway area. This land - old-growth and thus far only touched by an area-fire - leased from land-speculators, then cultivated primarily by hand and with each other's help. Often started with seeds brought from home: their riches, their future. And once the land has appreciated in value because of its cultivated state: it frequently is sold just like that - with those who had done the cultivating unceremoniously told to leave.
This also is Nelson Heritage.

Over 50% of the workers on the Columbia-Kootenay Railway are Chinese: most brought in because of their railroading-skills, acquired under most dreadful conditions/treatment on/by the transcontinental CP Railroad farther north; because of their work-ethic - work means life - and only having to be paid half of what white workers receive for their attitude. With Chinese by now the poor joke everywhere: Twice the work for half the pay!

And so it goes. With such Chinese-specific discoveries literally all over the place: I find myself increasingly incredulous and soon rather civic-activist in a broader sense. From high-energy colonial callousness then to low-voltage civic superficiality now! Having developed a strong Nelson-connect: I often find off-point civic niceties trying. Hence this blog!

The radio program. Its 16 chapters are archived at Touchstones Nelson, the Rossland Museum and the Selkirk College/Castlegar Reference Library.
The blog. It has almost 200 posts: about two thirds on how Nelson can easily be a much more interesting, all-around well-functioning place with just a bit more reasonable effort and altruistic concern for the Whole.

The Commemorative Chinatown Rock - Hall/Vernon entrance to Chinatown, just up the street from the Laundry of Infinite Achievement - is a monument to those local Chinese. Incidentally - since its dedication in 2011 - not once have I been asked what its short, deliberately not translated Chinese inscription means. 5 years!

Hard is the journey,
Hard is the journey;
So many turns -
Now where am I?

Indeed! From an ancient poem by Li Bai - who named the mountains where I now live in China for some time every year - Jiu Hua Shan.
This Rock is the centerpiece of Nelson's first Chinatown Week, in which 500 red paper-lanterns are hung all over downtown. 

Currently a traditional Chinese-style gazebo is being designed as shelter for the Rock in its new, more rightfully prominent location on Vernon/Hall.


In earlier days of the NDCC's plans for moving into the old CPR Station - ideas are floated on how best to use the much larger space there. One idea is to connect the Visitor Info Centre with a space for historio-cultural exhibits.

Over time - Chinese here have had much history with the CPR - aside from that on the transcontinental: the strong connection with the railroad for which the Station is built, market-gardens close-by on CPR land and Chinatown.
Thus far the historio-cultural concept has not resurfaced in the NDCC Station. With restoration to a great extent funded with tax-dollars: now giving back to the community as such would be appropriate. Would be good.
This is the appropriate place for acknowledging the location's Chinese significance within the far-reaching Chinese contribution to early Nelson as a whole.


Out of 77 places nominated to Heritage BC for recognition of being representative of heritage-values of the Chinese-Canadian community of BC: 19 have now been shortlisted to be recommended to Steve Thomson, Minister of Heritage, for formal recognition.
On the shortlist - organized by level of significance - the Nelson presentation
Nelson Chinatown, Sing Chong Laundry
ranks 4th.


On February 8, Chinese celebrate the Lunar New Year - the beginning of the Year of the Monkey - most important of all their holidays, with the week-long Spring Festival also introducing the beginning of spring. Double-happiness, indeed!

Xin Nian Kuai Le!

Addendum - Mon. 1 Feb, 2016
In tonight's Regular Council Meeting a letter from Richard Linzey, Director - Heritage Branch, Heritage BC - to the City of Nelson advises that Nelson's Chinatown indeed has been formally recognized for promoting the heritage values of historic places that demonstrate the contribution of Chinese-Canadians to the development of British Columbia. 
Its formal recognition will be included on the B.C. Register of Historic Places and put forward for inclusion on the Canadian Register of Historic Places. 

Tao Dance Theatre, Beijing   

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Bob and The Cauliflower Thing

At Any Price
Recently grocery-prices have been rising sharply - locally already very high to begin with at giants of high-volume turnover like Safeway and Save-On: particularly noticeable in produce. And we are told they will continue to rise.
Expert theories abound - but all only based on helpless grocers run by forces beyond their control. To Bob Canuck - who will pay no matter what - they could be confusing, even contradictory. If he thought about it all.

And if consumer-groups became more pro-active in exploring the wonderful, whacky world of creative pricing.

Supposedly the low price of oil doesn't help us - surely the weak Canadian dollar doesn't. And there was the California drought. The ever-paraded three-prong bugaboo. But even putting all three together: a 100% price-increase for cauliflower? While there probably are some valid reasons for price-increases - there probably are some which aren't: advantages taken within the generally distracting and well-maintained fug.


Food Dependency
Aside from California as prime-source - grocery-giants in BC have alternative sources on contract in Arizona and Mexico, where produce is plentiful - as seems to be water. Where is Canada in all this? Supermarket chains deal with Big Agros, these totally run with the most egregious agribusiness models. Corporate farming. Factory farming. You want organic? We give you organic!  
Any shortage in supply - frequently created artificially - raises prices for Bob. The grocer will not lower his profit-margin, no matter what. And once Bob has got used to a higher price it probably won't come down again - even if/when supply is (allowed to go) back to "normal". At least not to levels previous to whatever hoopla.


Cauliflower - including that grown in Canada(!?!) - has been the 7-to-8-bucks-a-head bad-boy veg of recent price-increases. Suddenly it's on everybody's mind, an absolutely essential part of everybody's diet.
What is this???
What else could it be but this single-focus-thing so outrageously manufactured by the big ones: that other not-quite-so-high-over-the-top-while-over-the-top-nonetheless increases get less attention. A diversion
After all - the flow of produce to Save-On anyway has remained uninterrupted: all their organic and most of their commercially-grown veg is/has been from California. So it's not the water!

Medium-size head, commercial - $3.99ea (4.00 really) Special for More Rewards card-holders this week; regular price $5.99 (6.00 really)
Medium-size head, commercial - $4.99ea (5.00 really), California/Arizona
Kootenay Country Store Co-op (The Co-op)
Smallish head, organic - $6.99 (7.00 really), all fatigued - thus 20% off

So Save-On in a show of solidarity with Bob and his culinary quirks - while clearly having no shortage of the stuff surprise, surprise! - puts it on Special last weekend. For you cheap! You see - this (rather simplistically coincidental) move by Vancouver suits is to convince Bob that Save-On understands him, is totally on his side: We are not like the others!

And then sticks it to him elsewhere. What with pricing store-wide interconnected: a declared decrease here - creates an undeclared increase there. Always a balancing-act!
Weekly specials announced in newspaper-inserts are not necessarily bargains: usually just the more reasonable price for something usually overpriced.

Demand should determine prices of non-essential food items. What Bob might consider: if you think the price is too high - don't buy it! I mean: cauliflower? And tell the manager in proverbial no uncertain terms! If enough people don't buy and tell him - meaning he ends-up sitting on loads of whatever stuff - prices will come down real quick like! Particularly those of perishables!

More Arbitrary Pricing
The-Less-Than-One-Mile Diet
The Kootenay Bakery Cafe Coop has been selling a Mediterranean Vegetarian Pate. They buy ingredients, produce the pate, package it, print the wrapper and sell it for $4.45. A good product for a good price. And - seemingly - a satisfactory profit.

The Co-op - half a block away - is currently running the same pate as a monthly members-only special for $4.49 (4.50 really); the price for non-members and all customers after the month is $4.99 (5.00 really). They have nothing to do with production; there are no transportation-costs. What with probably getting a wholesale price: their minimal-effort profit-margin is substantial.

Save-On used to sell the same pate for $4.45 - but recently raises it to $5.99 (6.00 really). The distance between the Bakery Cafe and Save-On is no more than a mile.
When I bring-up the discrepancy: they stick to $5.99 but add a tag announcing this pate as an In-Store Special at $4.45, with a saving of $1.54. A bargain!
When I find this even more appalling - deliberately misleading - than the initial increase: they maintain the $5.99, while now selling the pate to More Rewards card-holders for - $4.45.

And just one more example of arbitrary pricing in this supermarket selling about 30.000 items (a supermarket average) - you're following the bouncing ball? - is

Nescafe Taster's Choice Instant Coffee, 250g, at $16.99 (17.00 really) - while Walmart - down the mall - sells it for $12.17; the local Safeway sells it for $17.89 (18.00 really), and London Drugs - Vancouver, Granville/Georgia very high rent - sells it for under $10.00.

You may be quick to say that Walmart - after all - buys in uber-super-volume-bulk: therefore they can. But! Some of their food-stuffs are more expensive than at Save-On/Safeway, and what about London Drugs - much smaller than Walmart!

Supermarket pricing in one locale usually is more-or-less competitive - though Nelson's Safeway - the much bigger - overall is rather more expensive for basically the same stuff than Save-On. So here the Walmart principle of "the bigger - the cheaper" clearly doesn't apply either. Oddly - even for Safeway business is great. Bob likes it!
Go figure - and do pull back from oil/dollar/water-reasoning just a bit!  

                       You'll be surprised
                       what is to be found;
                       when you go beyond "Z"
                       and start poking around.
                                           Dr. Seuss

Food Independence
When I first become acquainted with seemingly very poor and primitive Northern-Chinese village-life in the early '90s: I am often astonished at the villagers' ingenuity. Making do together. Creating from need in days before money.
They grow all their food and make noodles - the staple.
Winters are harsh: all is frozen over, covered in deep snow.
Often they have collectively maintained greenhouses: long strips of bamboo bent into arches are stuck in the ground. Connected with horizontal strips to form skeletons with stability/flexibility.
In summer they are open: regular fields of produce inside.
In winter they are covered securely with heavy sheets of clear plastic - edges buried in the ground. On top of them large, thick carpet-like mats of straw. These mats are handled with a Venetian-blinds system: raised and lowered from the ground. Up during the day to allow for light/sun - down at night to keep warmth in; additional warmth put out by a small basic wood-burner. This is fed at regular intervals - day-and-night. Snow closer to the ground insulates. Watering is done by hand - plant-by-plant - with water carried in pails from sources often not close.
Survival is their job - done collectively.

Why not set-up large-scale year-round! collaborative farming in this area. Integrity Farming: respect for earth, water, sky; best-possible product-quality; high volume guaranteeing mutually satisfactory price/profit ratio.

Maybe instant coffee not so much - but what about cauliflower (hua cai in China)!

Chinese market-gardeners - earth people, coming from the same mindset - kept Nelson healthy for years: selling their fresh, reasonably priced veg from house to house in baskets they carried.

Now - also directly - contracts with grocers, restaurants, schools, hospitals eliminate intermediary profit-stacking - while guaranteeing price-stability, produce-availability, quality: a laboratory for province-wide and national food-sustainability, health-education - and a tourist-draw!

Bob? Eh, Bob!   

Saturday, 23 January 2016

The Cop Who Got Away (With It)!

When Cst. Drew Turner - off-duty cop in presence of others on-duty - in a rage assaults a woman and brutally pounds her into unconsciousness: Judge Richard Hewson - a man of spectacularly unsound reason and judgement - well, in this case for sure! - tut-tuts him to a month of R&R at home.
While there Turner - now a convicted criminal - continues to receive his pay. Whether this still includes the very generous bouquet of his perks - we are not told.
Since the end of his home-rest - be still, poor heart! - he's been on paid leave. Paid (for) what we also don't know.

For more detail see
Poor Judgement Hewson
5 Nov, 2015

On Thu, 21 Jan, 2016 - Turner submits his resignation from the Nelson cop-shop. As Chief Holland refuses to make this letter public - protecting his own: we are not told on what terms and when Turner will clear his locker.
If he leaves at the end of February: will he get paid - perks and all, the complete package - for another month of contributing absolutely nothing positive to Nelson? To then receive a regular-cop's severance-pay? The obligatory watch?
If he's gone at the end of January: how - if at all! - will that influence his final check?
If he's gone the day after his resignation - novel, one would think: how does that play-out financially for him?
Oh, decisions, decisions, decisions having to be made by our trusted Nelson Police Board (NPB).   


About his legal fees. Ostensibly they have been/will be paid by the City. Mention of this in the Star is unclear. It says:

The city paid Turner's legal fees but has declined to make the total amount public, as the police board hasn't yet decided whether it will seek reimbursement. 

This makes little sense. First of all: never mind the total amount - it hasn't made any amount public. And who at the City paid from what fund and declined to let the tax-payer know? 
So how can the NPB - not part of City Hall as such - decide whether or not to seek reimbursement of money they didn't pay? And if - for some screwy reason - they can (and care): what will their decision be based on, and when will it finally! be made?

If these fees - or part of them - haven't been paid yet: shouldn't now Citizen Turner's resignation alter the scenario to let him - solely - be the one responsible for paying? Which therefore then ought to be between him and his lawyer(s) and Court(-costs).
If all legal fees have been paid already: this certainly will be the time to seek reimbursement from him. If this whole process were logic-based. If.

Anyway - how does not informing the tax-payer connect with whether or not reimbursement will be sought? Unfortunately - seeking reimbursement from Mr. Turner wouldn't come to much: he's out of a job, with little chance of getting another one here - or anywhere - paying as well as this one.

These clearly substantial legal fees should have been dealt with by the all-and-ever-protective-of-their-own brotherhood of cops: he was a member of that secret-handshake bunch when he went on his rampage - let them handle the fall-out as well. Why should Turner be taken care of by City Hall - meaning the tax-payer - which/who has little sympathy with any of this!

How about reimbursing the City from the NPD budget? That'll learn 'em!

Some - reading this - may say why does he keep on keeping on so. The point made here: Nelson's crime-rate is very low; we rarely have violent crimes. Never one as brutal as that of Police Constable Drew Turner's: a man with Court-history, previously paid by the City as well! The only violent crime of this force in Nelson's memory committed by - a cop! And despite Judge Hewson going on about cops having to be held to a particularly high standard: Hewson doesn't, the City doesn't, the NPB doesn't, the cops' club doesn't. In fact, Turner has been cuddled by all since first charged, with money and down-time thrown at him from every angle.
Where were the women's groups here: where was the public outrage? Nobody! Nothing! 
Oh, Nelson!

Imagine for a moment an "ordinary" guy had beaten this woman senseless in a rage - just imagine.

The least the community should be able to expect - rebuilding trust in the Nelson cop-shop, etc. - is transparency, accountability of key-players' participation in this nasty affair. Instead - all continue to show self-serving disregard - thus lack of respect - for the community.

The NPB - according to their responsibilities - is accountable to the community of Nelson! But never yet has been, sitting-out anything in comfy silence. Hello, Star/Daily?

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


I'll say! The backbone of this blog!


Monday, 4 January 2016

The Arrogance of Wood-Rail-Cotton-Town Who

Below find material originally meant for the Committee of the Whole (COW), 21 Dec, 2015, within the single-public-presentation allowed 5 minutes per month tops. 15 minutes altogether for the Whole. 
With clarifying bits added and followed by an addendum here - in excess of said 5 minutes.

He who dares not offend cannot be honest.
                                                                         Thomas Paine 

City Staff states in the Nelson Star, 19 Nov, 2015: ... a design for a market can be completed that does not impact the larger Railtown revitalization planning work'.

This - although a preliminary plan for the Cottonwood Market (CM) has already been in the making for some time, while the lengthy planning-process for Railtown - led by a different consultant - won't even incrementally start before somewhere in Jan. 2016. The proverbial cart before the horse. Unless it isn't nudge-nudge!
Having to complete the development-plan as a whole by Sep. 2016 to make it eligible for government funds has it ripe for a predetermined rush-job: CPR Station and CM, with lesser fillers in between.

Started in January maybe by a by-invitation group of nameless stakeholders only - at the exclusion of the public, even though public input had previously been promised for Nov. 2015. Such input naturally having to be the foundation for a neighborhood - but! One thing the public has been "invited" to: pre-plan funding for David Reid's Taj Mahal has - thanks to Kevin Cormack, City Manager - come from the public's pockets.

A Request for Decision, 16 Nov, 2015, Topic: Cottonwood Market Redesign is inexcusably dealt with as a Late Item - thus missing from the same-date COW's very light Agenda - and left unannounced as such at the beginning - the usual procedure. Meaning - a possibly concerned public is strategically absented - while the Request states there will be an opportunity for the public to participate in the design process as well as the Railtown sustainable neighborhood plan. The very deliberately very late very unpublic way the topic is introduced in this COW alone seems to indicate the opposite.

The Star states: It was reported at Council a local business intends to contribute significantly to building the new structures, but no other details were given. And not demanded by Council!
This contributor is also mentioned vaguely twice in the Request - once as a partner. But not whose partner and partner in what and how. Neither giving the name of this so-called partner nor his clear intention with what kind of contribution is an inappropriate - anecdotal since without documentation (here we go again: shades of the Panhandling Bylaw Request!) - addition to/omission in the official Request for Decision.
This is particularly disturbing as Cormack and at least Reid clearly have a close relationship with this partner-in-City-Hall-affairs.

One may connect the very large dots through the same Star with: Councillor Robin Cherbo asked if the new structures could be made of wood. Cormack responded that would be an option and that the unnamed business that has stepped forward "deals in wood".


Mr. X - as such accepted by Council - thanks to Cormack could be cozily positioned for major hush-hush involvement in material-supply and whatever here and why not the Railtown development as well. Surely - as one of the by-invitation-only insiders.

Nelsonites are left mis/uninformed. With inconsistencies piling up: the whole process - barely begun - already is becoming less and less fathomable.

Councillor Adams makes a basic CM-point with: It is our building ... Why are we not paying for the whole thing? It is our building if it falls down and hurts somebody. Why are we waiting for someone else to fundraise for it?
Why indeed! Cormack's response is not to the Councillor's point.

I urge Mayor Kozak and Council to decisively here/now embrace the electorate - more and more marginalized in favor of business-interests - by officially making the name and business of this partner and his involvement as well as a complete list of the by-invitation group of stakeholders available for publication in the news-media. Plus facilitate a town-hall meeting in January for public input on Railtown and the Cottonwood Market.

I would have presented the preceding material-in-total in the COW, 21 Dec, 2015, if this COW hadn't been cancelled just like that. Without the general public notified through the various means available to City Staff - except on the City's Facebook thingie: now Staff's one-size-fits-all convenience into outside-reality.

As for future COWs: When accessing the month-by-month Meeting Calendar for 2016 in the usual spot on the City's home-page: while COWs are listed - their now alternating times - 13:00/19:00 - are not. Neither are times for any other meetings.

There was talk of relationships coming from candidates during the last municipal election. A year later - there has been little relationship-building with the general electorate. Too busy with stuff.
If not now - when?
In a small yet significantly thoughtful gesture: Councillor Morrison is the only one on Council providing her email address for public input at the bottom of her Star COLUMN.

The above COW-material went to Mayor Kozak & Council by email - in time for the Regular Meeting of the Minds, 4 Jan, 2016. Seeing that the success or an unfixably locked-in failure of Railtown will determine this administration's legacy.

So - come on already, Council!