Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Is there a Market for this?

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

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

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

I am getting ahead of myself.

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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


Friday, 21 October 2016

One disappointed Canadian! Sorry, too!

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

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

                             Mike Blanchfield
                              Canadian Press, Oct. 21, 2016

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

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

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

Multi-level community-newspapering.

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


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

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

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


Sunday, 18 September 2016

City Hall Contracting for Nelson Commons

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pierre et Gilles
Berndnaut Smilde  

Wednesday, 24 August 2016


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Do something about it!"    

Saturday, 13 August 2016

1780 Bucks? Seriously?

When last year the Board of the Chamber of Commerce generated a resolution towards an Aggressive-Panhandling Bylaw - this was to directly benefit downtown merchants. Only. As much seems to in Nelson. An official Request for Decision was put to Council, without any evidentiary documentation whatsoever backing a need for such bylaw.
After much toing-and-froing the Request didn't make it; the bylaw-proposal was shelved with a diplomatic let's-wait-and-see.

Initially bylaw-focused - then going much further - discoveries/deliberations manifested the Nelson Street Culture Collaborative: the pooling of local energy from diverse sources to deal with a much larger issue - of which panhandling here is only a small part.

This group formulated a plan to be found in

City contributes $10.000 to street outreach worker project
                                               Bill Metcalfe, Nelson Star, Aug 11, 2016,

with funding-needs of $100.000 for two outreach-workers plus one year's admin-costs.
The effort is commendable and will be of positive impact on many levels.

Contributions thus far:
Salvation Army - $40.000
Nelson Committee on Homelessness - $36.000
City of Nelson - $10.000
Nelson Community Services Society - $5.000
Total - $91.000

There also are an embarrassingly scraped-together-seeming $1.780 from the "Nelson business community" - still leaving the goal short of $7.220. Reasonably/logically to be sourced within that "community". Since they - next to focus-groups in the streets - may ultimately directly benefit more than most from the Collaborative's work.

Taking - Yes/Giving - No! Coming from a place of entitlement: as a whole Nelson's business-community has not been known for generosity. Even when - as here - tax-deductible!

Shop Local! Seriously?


Shame On You!
claus schunke    

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Nelson Library - Don't Read (This)!

While cruising the shelves you come across a book you've been meaning to read for some time! A treat! But as it's rather thick you need to decide before you Borrow it: Will I actually have enough time to finish this within 3 weeks?
Because you can't take for granted that you will be able to Renew and Renew it. If someone places a Hold on what you're now reading: you can't Renew! Thus may not be able to find out how it all ends. Surprise and major bummer!!!

Patron A - with the Hold - seems more important than Patron B - currently enjoying this book. Regardless of the latter's reading-pleasure/habits, time available, even ability to read with ease.

Patron A can Borrow 20 books with an Individual Card (IC) - even 60! with a Family Card (FC) - and run 10 Holds concurrently. So he/she couldn't be made to wait for this particular book to be returned until Patron B chooses, within a time acceptable (not imposed) to everybody? Ironically now - with this Hold come through - A has to read it immediately because - be still, poor heart! - Patron C has a Hold on the very same book! And the beat goes on! Speed-reading! 


But that's the system, and questioning it has resulted in desk-staff's improvised, evasive reasoning, defensive shrug
How did who when come up with 10 Holds, Borrowing 20 or 60 items, Renewing twice and the muddle all this keeps creating? Certainly not based in inherent need - but need devised! 

While the Library on one hand encourages pleasures to be found in reading its books - on the other it undermines those pleasures.

Bluntly put: patrons actually may not be an issue as readers alone - ostensibly the Nelson Library's raison d'etre - but money-makers as well! 
Like - you will finish your book regardless of somebody's Hold and just pay the fine: 30 cents per day may not seem like much - but 3 bucks for 10 days?

It would be interesting to know how much money the Library is making in fines. Imagine Patron A with Holds on books 10 patrons are currently reading.....
Deliberately using fining to steadily substantially add income to the detriment of reading-enjoyment would seem tacky.

Being allowed 20 even 60 items - deep breath! - while having 10 Holds - encourages misuse of the system, confusion, with lots of books around the house not returned when due: I mean who can keep track of and has time for 60 anyway!
So here comes more money: overdue is good!

This way over the top set-up keeps many books out of circulation for those enjoying the choice, the discovery of something unexpected on shelves.

In addition to ...

Approximately 1700 books in Fiction/Mystery are shelved spine-up, mostly hidden so low(est) that they really are out of circulation - unless the nimble patron literally crawls along the floor and pulls out books one-by-one to identify title/author. Mind you - if you are not nimble enough: you could let a staff-member do the crawling for you!

Clearly - the Nelson Library has done much to tech-up, this taking lots of focus, energy, time - and oh money!
Altogether maybe too much of the big-city/with-it attempt. Endemic to Nelson.

So - to increase reader-focused blood/book circulation, how about:
A 3-weeks item can always be Renewed once (instead of twice maybe).
A Hold means the item will reliably be held for the patron(s) next and next in line, once it has been returned anytime within guaranteed 6 weeks.
There is no bumping-up/down!
3 Holds are allowed (instead of 10).
There is no Suspending a Hold: having it "frozen" and at a convenient time re-entered somewhere in the waiting-line of other Holds. Either in or out - Hold or let go!
A patron with an IC can Borrow 10 items altogether (instead of 20).
A patron with an FC can Borrow 20 items altogether (instead of 60).
Another shelf is added on top of shelf-units, with a moveable single-step in every aisle.

All this - to have the Nelson Library first and foremost function as a Smallishtown library for folk enjoying a good read!

The rest they can Google!

The worst thing about new books is that they keep us from reading the old ones.

                                                                             John Wooden, Coach