Saturday, 8 July 2017
The EcoSociety has been local news lately. Once reported - once not!
2 Band-Shells - Money to Burn
There's the recently Council-approved non-functional, unattractive second coming of a Cottonwood Market band-shell by the same architect - Lukas Armstrong, Cover Architecture - whose earlier design for a total Market redo - including a similar band-shell - initially approved by Council, eventually was rejected by someone else at City Hall.
Without the public informed, even though $42.600 out of a total of $82.600 spent on that also non-functional, unattractive Market design (or what?) were tax-dollars. The remaining $40.000 - almost one third of that year's CBT allotment - were volunteered by Council. Meaning - many really struggling, deserving weren't funded that year.
These $82.600 are mentioned nowhere in the current context; the public has never been given a rundown on how/towards what they were applied if.
After I had raised the question of these $82.600 already gone in the COW, 19 Jun, 2017: Councillor Dailly - in a major meltdown, unprovoked yet unhindered by Acting Mayor Warmington - called this figure a lie. While I had the on-record info - he either was uninformed! of the topic or just childishly contrary. Which - again - raises questions about this Council's preparedness for the job they were elected to do.
Not a good look for him (and them), particularly as word on the street has it he may be running for mayor, next time around: next year.
Neither had the public been informed of a scaled-back version of the original plan continuing to be developed: with focus now another non-functional, unattractive band-shell.
This second band-shell ostensibly to cost about $40.000 - but wording there is poor.
Are we looking at double-dipping here?
While approval of this band-shell was on the agenda of the Regular Council Meeting, 4 Jul, 2017, and should have been dealt with publicly: it quickly became clear that the decision to approve had been reached in camera, preceding the public Meeting.
Seemingly orchestrated by Staff - as most of Council's big stuff is these days. Because there was no discussion, development, discovery - coming together.
A tepid performance for public consumption: the public of no consequence in this gestation-process.
A few comment-nuggets, though:
Some Councillors thought using wood for building this band-shell is so us - so BC.
Councillor Morrison patronized: The design is "modern". You'll get used to "modern", just like my neighbors did with my house.
Armstrong - currently the City's golden boy, who can't do wrong even when he does - promised his band-shell would be used every day - with Councillors happily bobbling.
For weddings, too!
The whole thing may actually end-up costing at least $150.000 - never to forget the $82.600 already spent earlier.
Also - for evening performances - there would be continuing costs of stage-lighting and lighting of the whole area for security; security personnel; parking and waste-management.
Paid for by whom?
None of these issues specifically, plus administration/maintenance generally, were addressed by City Staff - in their Request for Decision from Council - and/or by Council in their approval-performance.
So there you (will) have it: a costly, unwelcoming band-shell to pretty much be used in Saturday-market performances only.
And weddings in the dirt.
While - oddly (or-not?) - the above item has not at all been reported in the Star/Nelson Daily: the EcoSociety's request for financial consideration from the City has.
Its Cottonwood/Baker/Winter Markets and Market Fests add greatly to our economy and interpersonal well-being: through local-, area- and tourist-participation.
Keeping these events healthy and going is a no-brainer.
The City needs to be urged to plug the band-shell money-drain and instead use funds saved thus to support all Markets as a whole - period! The performance-angle will be of no benefit to the EcoSociety - unless they're blackmailed into running it for the requested financial consideration.
Montana Burgess, Executive Director
Pam Mierau, Manager - Development Services
Deb Kozak, Mayor
Colin McClure, CFO
Saturday, 1 July 2017
Below is a letter (plus additional thoughts) sent to Rona Park, Nelson Community Services, also overseeing the Nelson Street Culture Collaborative. The latter supporting people possibly disenfranchised and (uncomfortably to some) visible downtown.
This discomfort - fear actually - people experience when in closer proximity of the undesirables in itself is more of a problem than are the undesired.
While the recent Chamber of Commerce (NDCC)-generated item in the Star - signed by "52 downtown businesses" - lists a number of issues: what seems to have stuck in readers' minds is panhandling. What with ever spiraling assumptions/assertions: all those dressed, acting/connecting with each other a certain way/in specific places downtown obviously are drug-addicted, mental, homeless - panhandlers.
To the point of one commenter writing that in one day he was accosted downtown 6 times by panhandlers and just can't bear going there any longer.
Bottom-line: Letters like this feed into the perception - once again - that downtown thus tourism are going to the dogs, only because of hordes of aggressive panhandlers roaming Baker.
All the Wrongs
While these businesses individually may relate to any number of the NDCC letter's issues, not all 52 - here lumped together on all of them - have a problem with panhandling.
In her letter to the Star, 25 Nov, 2015, Mary Plemondon (a woman of experience - she owns Wait's News) says about a meeting of the Downtown Business Association: "I was pleasantly surprised that in a room of close to 40 people, only 3 spoke in favor of this (panhandling) bylaw."
It is also necessary to differentiate between panhandlers and those panhandling. While all undesirables by now conveniently are called panhandlers - only few of them do panhandle. And not in groups!
The proposed bylaw lists where undesirables mustn't panhandle - like near banks. Actually only referring to a single bank - the CIBC. Nobody hangs out at the others. Kevin Cormack, CAO, had the amenities across from the CIBC torn down - without Council's approval - leaving only one bench. The lack of seating resulted in the undesirables clustering more tightly under/close to the tree there - closer to/on CIBC steps. Cormack's self-promoting move to rid the area of undesirables backfired!
They didn't leave!
So let's pretend they're there specifically to panhandle and put it in the bylaw!
See if that'll do it - do them!
Law & Order?
This blog looked at some of its too simplistically focused points before the panhandling-bylaw's Third Reading, which directly led to Council deciding to look at "street people" more attentively (in tandem with relevant local groups), the bylaw being put on hold and the Street Culture Collaborative forming.
When the Chamber's board - not the general membership! - devised their "resolution" for an "aggressive panhandling bylaw" - to promptly be followed by City Staff (using the NYPD as cover) proposing it, with Council asleep at the wheel: neither the NDCC, nor City Staff or the NYPD had (ever) collected any data on the (average, seasonal, etc.) numbers of our actual! panhandlers.
Clearly - a non-issue!
In fact - City Staff's Request for Decision to Council was not based on any written documentation whatsoever substantiating a need for such bylaw. And Council didn't demand it - didn't question the origin of this bylaw-proposal, with its vague anecdotal content!
While Wayne Holland, previous NYPD Chief, then was and the NDCC/City Staff all along have been fearmongering about our untouchables!
Hugs for Spare Change
An informal survey I ran at the time - presented to Council in a Committee of the Whole - found that within 7 days, around midday, there were 12 actual panhandlers on Baker. But because one of them was in her spot every day: the number of individual panhandlers - none aggressive! - was actually only 6 within that week.
This year I don't see much panhandling on Baker either. On a recent good-weather Saturday - while I was toing-and-froing in the downtown-core for about 2 hours - there wasn't any.
The Street Culture Collaborative - with its insightful work so far - for balance might also engage the general public. As in exploring with them that their fear of otherness may make them exaggerate and not see clearly that while we don't have a panhandling problem as such - we do have a discrimination-problem all the way to City Hall.
Hugging trees is easy for Nelson - hugging untouchables not so much. Especially the ones who don't look so nice and don't buy stuff from downtown businesses.
Out Damned Spot!
Tourists still come: after all - there is no place in BC without ever increasing numbers of the disenfranchised. And tourists know this.
But the NDCC and City Staff must stop blaming a segment of our population for their cronies making never-enough money and instead produce creative initiatives to market Nelson-as-is.
To be considered: if they should manage to cleanse Nelson of all undesirables - the goal now and always! - and then find and must acknowledge those clearly weren't the problem - then what?!
It is this hysteria-stoking which actually may start keeping tourists away.
Not the so-called panhandlers!
Take a deep breath, Nelsonites: While we need to compassionately attend to the problems facing all our vulnerable - the only threat they pose is to your comfort-zone.
You are being manipulated into believing otherwise!
Downtown almost every day for years, I have never felt/been threatened by anyone.
Kevin Cormack, CAO
Deb Kozak, Mayor
Tom Thomson, NDCC
Wednesday, 28 June 2017
Quote (Direct, Complete):
Upon leaving his post in Ottawa in 1984, Lord Moran, British High Commissioner, tells his London bosses in a valedictory dispatch that Canadians are "deeply unimpressive."
He says "Anyone who is moderately good at what they do - in literature, the theatre, skiing or whatever - tends to become a national figure. And anyone who stands out at all from the crowd tends to be praised to the skies and is given the Order of Canada at once."
He claimed that Canadians had limited talents.
Associated Press, Oct. 18, 2009
Tuesday, 20 June 2017
When the original Cottonwood Market folly was cancelled last year - after having cost the taxpayer and CBT at least $82.600 - the public wasn't officially informed of any of what - we know now - has continued to go on bandshellwise - not cancelled at all! - in City Hall's hushed corridors.
To this date, no specific purpose for its costly artificial life-support has been made clear by the City. The Request for Decision, 6 Jun, 2017, has not addressed this either, even though at last there it should be. Topping that - Council has been prompted to approve this unasked-for-by-the-public remake incomplete.
In the Committee of the Whole, 19 Jun, 2017, Councillor Dailly questioned the above/below amounts I presented - essentially calling them a lie. Making him an example of individual disengagement in Council's process: this not speaking well for the whole.
The figures are real - easily accessible to those interested.
Including Councillor Dailly if.
While it is unprofessional and presumptive of Cover Architecture to submit an incomplete proposal for approval - it is highly irregular of Colin Innes, Public Works, and Kevin Cormack, CAO, to accept and put it before Council as-is.
But then - Staff presenting incomplete and/or poorly substantiated or even unsubstantiated projects to Council for approval has become the norm: the original Cottonwood Market; Hall St 1, 2 and the Panhandling Bylaw come to mind.
Council approving an incomplete design such as this bandshell and Hall St 2 leaves loopholes for unapproved changes and additions in design - thus funding - at will.
Nowhere in this Request are costs of the new bandshell-design itself addressed. To be considered: designs for the ankle-twisting concrete vendors'-space, a similar bandshell (made of the same now praised-to-high-heaven material), toilet-facilities, etc. are already-paid-for-parts of the original Cottonwood Market plan.
When comparing the 2 renderings below - the viewer will find that Cover Architecture didn't bother with a completely different presentation for design #2. Foreground, people, ground-cover and produce-displays are those from #1. They basically just pulled the first bandshell and inserted the second. While this probably saves time, energy and money - it is also unimaginative and dismissive of those this ostensibly is meant for.
But it's not really meant for us: the architects have made clear that they are using this remake as a lab-test for their super-material, ultimately aiming for award-worthy.
For themselves - on our dollar.
What's the point in replacing #1 with #2? Both to be made of the same stuff - both insubstantial and non-functional.
City Staff's role in all this is unclear - they're not telling.
Back to biggish money. Last fall - after the cancellation of the original unworkable market extravaganza - I found: soon after that at least 2 cheques were cut at City Hall for Cover Architecture, totaling about $5.000. Inquiring for what these payments were made, I was informed: for the Cottonwood Market.
The gift that keeps on giving to Cover Architecture.
About the Need for a Bandshell:
If it is to be used only for informal performances during market-hours on Saturdays - we don't need it, particularly visually as off-putting as this. Its crippled, unbalanced form would add no acoustic value to sound; it would offer little shelter to performers.
If it is to be used for more formal evening-performances - here we go again! - there needs to be lighting and sound-amplification.
How much exactly - at what cost?
There also needs to be adequate lighting to address safety-concerns for the whole area: from wherever people will park and stand listening to toilet-facilities.
How much exactly, hooked-up where and to what - at what cost?
There will be major environmental concerns - like garbage containment/pick-up and people trampling all over unlit parts - such as the Japanese garden - in search of a place where to indulge their habits.
Who exactly will run parking, toilets, trash, general environmental degradation and security - at what cost?
Who exactly will be responsible for operating the whole?
Cover Architecture's approach to the costs of actually building their self-serving design #2 follows the fundraising-pattern established by David Reid's ego and Kevin Cormack with the earlier Cottonwood Market: vague promises and vaguer possibilities and - nothing!
What is missing here - often at City Hall - is linear thinking: No feasibility-study towards a commonly established need plus clearly to spiral costs should make this project a no-go.
Councillor Cherbo - in his recent Star column - is looking at the possibility that Council could put more effort into connecting with the public. In my memory:
a first and to be commended.
This should apply to top-management as well - even more so: their jobs are fulltime, for which they get paid very well.
With our dollar.
The notion "You can't beat City Hall!" needs to go!
Cover Architecture Collaborative
Kevin Cormack, CAO
Colin McClure, CFO
Deb Kozak, Mayor
Wednesday, 14 June 2017
Jiu Hua Shan is one of China's 5 holy mountains. The Chinese inscription on our Commemorative Chinatown Rock at Vernon/Hall is from a poem by one of China's most beloved classical poets - Li Bai - who named Jiu Hua Shan: Mountain of Nine Flowers.
One of many temples there - this one superficially unremarkable - is where I had been meditating for years: outside its gate; on a roughly put together granite bench; a boisterous mountain stream precipitously behind-below me but never mind; the trunk of a tree for grounding touch in front; constantly bowing bamboo plumes gravely acknowledging each other and me; birds just waking up. No people - the temple gate still closed.
Good for Qi Gong.
After settling - the stream's chorus would rush through me, fill me, drown me.
Sometimes - after meditating - I found a cup of tea next to me or some fruit. With no-one to be seen - no direct social contact necessary.
Then - standing in the stream - I would rinse my hands, arms, face.
And walk through dense bamboo back to my village - Xia Min Yuan - about 3km away. Attentive step after step: many large toads in dry-bamboo-leaf camouflage are none too visible and none too swift.
Fundamentally not much has changed over the course of my coming here for 22 years: but quite some time ago all houses got solar hot water on the roof; all families got an electricity-powered scooter. All street-lights along lanes got small individual power-plants on top - a sun-hat: collecting, storing, converting and applying after sunset.
No surprise and simple: this community has strong and trusted leadership and truly co-operative let's-do-this-thing spirit.
The villagers' open smiles feed me: You're back! You look well!
On my first morning this year - looking forward to meditating on my bench, at my tree, at my stream, outside my temple - I find a drastic change to all in physical reality and vibes.
My tree was cut down for no reason apparent to me, and a huge representation of obscenely obese Xiao Fo - the Laughing Buddha, which actually he isn't but in charge of abundance and contentment to many - while to me more a gurgly-gluttonous Jabba the Hutt - has been placed next to the gate.
I feel off-balance.
A nun appears and offers me a small bowl of xifan - rice gruel. She also is overweight and surely not on xifan.
I have always been suspicious of overweight monks' and nun's integrity. Too inclined to worldly indulgence - too disinclined to physical exertion.
Asking her why this healthy, in nobody's way tree was killed, she has no explanation, ordered to come here after that fact. She apologizes and withdraws.
It's time to temple-shop. I can't continue here and will not give up my mornings. So I arbitrarily stop in a tiny-dusty worship room. Once I sit - I hear constant comings-and-goings too close to me in this small space: clearly to ogle lao wai - the foreigner. I am at least vaguely known in the area. But seeing me - or anyone non-monk, really - actually meditate in these places is unusual. Temple-hop and bow with piles of pricey incense to invite money mainly - yes. Meditate - no.
I finish with dropping some coins into a large donation-box, always placed in front of statues. I do this not to further the cause (or effect) but - always in the eye here - simply want to be a good white ghost. Among the real people.
Cleverly - made out of wood - those boxes are boom-boxes as well. So - dropping coins into them is heard loudly and affirms the giving religio-tourists' devotion over that of others - guilt! - while alerting monks/nuns to funds coming in.
When I leave the following morning - a monk - mental arms akimbo (to basic lao wai: inscrutable) - stands outside giving me the look. Not a word!
O(nly) my God(s)!
Despite my coin-drop on this second morning as well - on the third the door is locked.
Of course I can meditate anywhere outside, but doing it inside now seems more appropriate.
Next I deliberately decide on the worship-hall of an old nunnery - going full opposite - large, high, deep, dark and cool. Imposing gold-glitz figures from the myriad of holy folk in Buddhism - all with their own special niche to light(en) the path - along the walls.
I finally gave up religio-spiritual table-hopping years ago in an Indian monastery and brought all that down to bottom-line integrity, as my base from which to function - period.
Integrity - with cultural adjustments - the great decider in any religion anyway underneath their pomp and circumstance - was a natural conclusion for me.
Of course, condensing it all into this low-body-fat mind-shape would not be acceptable to the religion-industry, with its high-drama control mechanisms: their source-apps being blind faith, guilt, karma and hope.
Similar control-methods to people's everyday-lives: the most popular apps are those devised for removing the user/used step-by-step from personal responsibility and decision-making based on - effort with integrity.
It's not a help-me! bend that draws me to these places - but they're conveniently there, and their initial energetic focus over time has made them acquire a soothing vibe of otherworldly captivating remoteness - even if now often artificially induced, maintained by those within and artificially supported by those without.
In the nunnery - directly behind the currently unused table/chair at the door for a religious-guidance nun - is another, heavier-looking chair against the wall, with two metal fire-buckets close on its other side. Not wanting to disrupt the quiet with crashing into these buckets: lifting the hemmed-in chair up and over to the corner where I want to sit needs to be done mindfully. Twice: in and out. Pressure!
I come back next morning. Same chair - same routine. Except - when I take it to exactly the same place as the day before, I notice a 10 fen coin (like a dime here but far less value) on the floor, next to the chair and not there the previous morning.
When I am finished I drop 2 of my coins and this one into the donation-box at hand.
I feel righteous.
Then I return the chair - again without mishap - and leave.
Next morning the coin is back. Same place.
I don't touch it again.
The following morning the fire-buckets are gone - the coin still there.
Xiqi - Inhale
Huqi - Exhale
Shortly before he dies, Leonard Cohen talks about the pleasure he now finds in doing small, seemingly inconsequential things attentively.
Lao Xun Ke
Wednesday, 12 April 2017
The Downtown Urban Design Strategy follows the same steps as the Downtown Master Plan - mother of them all - and the Railtown Plan.
Not so much Stores-to-Shores Phase 1 - there never was a coherent plan for this. It just sort-of evolved-or-not as "they" went along.
Anyway - with the other three an expensive consultant put together a catalogue of what we have and possibly could have - the could-have with a modicum of general-public-feel-good input, ultimately of little deciding impact.
These plans as such are of no immediate practical value.
The Downtown Strategy goes on for 146 pages and takes close to an hour to download. Most of no real interest to the average Nelsonite, who just wants to see lots of clear, exciting images of what is to be. The very few sketches (all here) provided are little more than our given reality with a bit of zip. There's nothing substantially new to agree/disagree with.
City of Nelson
The words are more interesting, with their emphasis on Baker/Ward turning into Nelson's navel. Large areas providing seating for hordes of weary shoppers - and Nelson's untouchables.
The latter already giving Mayor Kozak public hiccups within this context - while (grin-and-bear-it) she also calls the plan "a key piece in the city's overall vision to make Nelson a vibrant and livable community". Not quite livable yet - but soon, maybe without the untouchables.
Much expanded seating-arrangements would be but hardly will be a significant about-face from Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Kevin Cormack's attitude towards the untouchables, made very clear when he - without Council - not that long ago on his own ordered amenities on Baker torn down, using funds from a treasure trove only he seems to have access to. This tear-down to remove seating for the untouchables and real people - together.
Then there was the CAO's Request for Decision to Council for an Aggressive Panhandling Bylaw, without any documented evidence whatsoever that such bylaw was needed, that Nelson actually had large numbers of aggressive panhandlers to deal with. Or even just many basic panhandlers - period.
With Council raising crucial questions within the lengthy process of adopting-or-not such bylaw - left unaddressed by Staff when putting its initial presentation together - the whole thing was shelved to be revisited come autumn.
The idea of more seating than ever - without a legal way of making it whites-only - seems a potential show-stopper, given the CAO does like getting his way!
The size of Nelson dictates the (finite) number of local-and-area shoppers. Nothing will change that. Neither will superficially guzzying-up downtown bring more tourist-shoppers to Nelson.
So - while putting a framework in place for possible future reference: all in all nothing much will happen soon with this Strategy.
Still - to have Nelsonites believe that their opinions do shape their environment - there will be another Open House for them to look at and listen to sales-pitches for this already done deal: the Final Draft of the Downtown Urban Design Strategy, already presented in exhaustive detail online.
Adventure Hotel on Vernon
16:00 - 19:00
Of actual here-now consequence to the public is the needlessly complicated and dangerous to drivers Hall/Lakeside redevelopment (previously called Stores-to-Shores Phase 2) - supposedly coming before Council for final approval:
Committee of the Whole
Council Chamber - City Hall
24 April, 19:00
No Open House for today's driving public is planned for this prior to!
Kevin Cormack, CAO
Megan Squires, Senior Planner
Pam Mierau, Manager - Development Services
Monday, 3 April 2017
When the "Stores-to-Shores" project was announced - "public art" was one
of the bells and whistles promised on the way down to the lake.
But all we have is a redo of the mural on the PHARMASAVE wall - between Baker and Vernon. There since Oct. 2001 - redone in 2014.
The original: water, rocks, trees, fishing from an indigenous boat and flat round faces in the shrubbery. Creatively awkward and rather colorless (no greens, blues), it was endearingly earnest - we were used to it. As a whole easily forgettable, forgotten.
The redo is a mish-mash of 3 styles. 2 are Brian McLachlan's own in the very left and very right sections, and 1 - the center: marginally more successful, not necessarily local-sourced - is large-scale digital reproductions of old photos.
Like lumberjacks whacking at old-growth trees, which the white man actually hardly saw here, what with the wildfire of the 1850s burning down everything in the area.
The very left section still is a part of the original, in his #1 style. The very right section - in style #2, themed local-arts-and-culture - potentially is the most attention-getting. Partly because it is in several colors - the other sections' are rather monochromatic and old-photo sepia - and definitely because the people represented here all appear so uniformly grotesque.
Grotesque - because the painter - obviously oblivious - has absolutely no talent for painting people. This may sound harsh, but - no, I'm not sorry! - there they embarrassingly are! On a very large public(ly funded?) wall.
The Cultural Development Committee (CDC) could have taken the opportunity in 2014 - when the mural was damaged - to call the whole thing off and look at a new one altogether, more in tune creatively with out-of-town today. Instead of letting McLachlan - a minor local talent - loose one more time, unchecked (and financed?).
Let's face it - at that time he had had a good run of about 13 years with his oeuvre. So - was this an obligatory polite, feeling-sorry-for-him nod, or was the CDC simply obtuse.
For an historical mural - Trail's could have inspired. Yes - Trail's!
Ironically - Stephanie Fischer, CDC Chair, also runs the Capitol Theatre, the framework of McLachlan's arts-and-culture representation. But this section is poor advertising for her Capitol specifically - and not at all exemplary of how her CDC wants tourists to perceive us arts-and-culture jocks - period.
Yet there it is: she/they should have known (and decided) better!
Good enough is not good enough!
The mural - in its mostly dull shades and partly obscured by trees - has been there so long: nobody stops to look. I hadn't been aware of the redo until recently - and I'm a very visual person, usually seeing all around me.
Like - for instance - the 7 new, surely very expensive waste-bins in this single block of Hall: 4 at Hall/Baker and 3 at Hall/Vernon. Used by nobody and all too close to tiny natural settings they promptly overpower visually.
Oh, Public Works!
Then there are the latest 2 Nelson Hydro boxes, across from the mural. All downtown cross-streets have them, most go on-and-on about the wonderfulness of Nelson Hydro, and most are wrapped in dirty-green camouflage-variations. There's no joy in them, and enough already: all we need to know and do know is that Nelson Hydro is running our show. Some at its top among the highest earners at corporate City Hall.
Now with Maglio's Hydro box on it!
Is it just me, or ...!
Will Alex Love be next with his very own box?
Back to grotesque people. When a CDC meeting - some time ago - discussed murals for Nelson: it was agreed that painted outdoor-murals generally only have a limited life-expectancy. I was there.
So - with the Hall revamp needing a reason for being - beyond free parking, pipes in the ground and a place to put lots and lots of new, surely very expensive waste-bins: how about a taking-your-breath-away mural on the PHARMASAVE wall!
Consciously planned, designed - and executed within parameters contractually established prior to! By someone out-of-town with an exceptional proven track-record.
That and all Nelson Hydro boxes wrapped colorfully and telling different stories of common interest: taken-on as public-art projects.
Unless Nelson Hydro just won't have any of that!
Luis Seven Martins - l7m
"There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about,
and that is not being talked about."
Stephanie Fischer, CDC Chair
Valerie Warmington, City Councillor/CDC Member
Anna Purcell, City Councillor/Alternate CDC Member
Pam Mierau, Manager - Development Services
Colin Innes, Director - Public Works