Wednesday, 12 April 2017

The Downtown Hangout

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.
Open House:
Adventure Hotel on Vernon
20 April
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!

Mayor Kozak

Kevin Cormack, CAO

Megan Squires, Senior Planner

Pam Mierau, Manager - Development Services

City Council  

Monday, 3 April 2017

Public Art on Hall - Really?

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.

One of these boxes is about Mayor Maglio, seemingly part of the Hydro thing. I didn't read his story. But we know the Maglios have been doing extremely well for themselves around Nelson: most recently - be still, my heart! - as the road-construction contractor of Stores-to-Shores Phase 1 - namely Hall St.
Now with Maglio's Hydro box on it!
Is it just me, or ...!

Will Alex Love be next with his very own box? 

I digress!


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."
                                                                  Oscar Wilde

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

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Fiscal Responsibility

Following is material originally presented to the Committee of the Whole (COW), 20/03/17. With more detail, partly based on reactions from Colin McClure, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and Robin Cherbo, Acting Mayor/Chair.

Absent are Mayor Kozak, Councillor Dailly, Councillor Purcell and Kevin Cormack, Chief Administrative Officer (CAO).


"According to Council's approval and the CFO's announcement respectively: funding necessary for road-repairs is to be generated through cost-increases in seniors' bus-passes and meter-parking.

Once funding is in place - done this way surely a very long process - its appropriate use must be ensured: what with Public Works - at wasteful expense - superficially refilling old-familiar potholes for ages. Or not - thus dangerous for drivers and pedestrians! Not to forget - literally and please! - tectonic cracks in sidewalks.

These rate-increases are a simplistic solution, while - with linear foresight - such funds could reasonably be collected from about 40 parking-meters on Hall, between Herridge and Vernon.

It seems bizarre that drivers now may find free downtown-parking on Hall, while - if not so lucky - they not only pay for it just around the corner on Baker or Vernon, but on top of that with a rate-increase.

Substantial revenue from Hall meters - collected during almost a whole year, since completion of that part of Stores-to-Shores Phase 1 - could have been steadily fed into funds sought now.

Colin Innes of Public Works recently talks about replacing old meters with high-tech ones in a year or two - but then only the odd one when falling apart. So - it's actually not all new ones soon. We are vaguely looking at years!
And a good thing too, because - also according to Mr. Innes: we may be too squeamish about an across-the-board change. Therefore, installing these new meters in dribbles will be easier on our fragile collective psyche.

Actually - these newfangled ones  - for some time already used effectively and comfortably in other communities - could have been installed a year ago on Hall: their testing-ground, if you will. Seamlessly logical and fiscally responsible.

My direct question to Council here/now: Why are there no parking-meters - old or new - on these 2 blocks of Hall?"

End of COW presentation

I ask Council specifically "here/now", because I want to know how far they are involved. And if they aren't - who is, what with Stores-to-Shores Phase 1 as a whole turning out to be such a clunker.
Robin Cherbo - as Acting Mayor/Chair - promptly turns to the CFO for the answer, an explanation. An answer in itself - so there goes Council's involvement!

About Parking-Meters:
Mr. McClure clearly is unprepared for this particular question, even though he - as the City's CFO - introduced the higher parking-meter rates for Nelson, thus might have considered strong-revenue-generating meters for this virgin-stretch of Hall.
His impromptu reasons are unconnected and non-linear. They come down to this-and-that still in a planning-stage for the Hall Street Plaza, while in my expressed opinion: all planning should have been figured-in, funded and actualized within the overall completion of Stores-to-Shores Phase 1, a year ago. Done - as of! And not still dithered over a year and possibly much more later!
In reality - this was not just a phase but seemingly can go on indefinitely: money for years!

While he says in all seriousness and his own words: parking-meters wouldn't look nice in the wonderfulness of the Hall Street Plaza - I have never known this so-called plaza to be anything but a parking-lot for 20 cars. 

He has nothing to say about metered parking for another 20 cars between Baker and Vernon. Neither is he prepared for how meter-maids can enforce the 2-hour non-metered parking-limit along the 2 blocks between Herridge and Vernon. This essentially meaning: business-people in the area can park there all day without paying anything!

About Road-Work:
Just one example of institutional potholes is the series - for at least 8 years - covering much of the north-side crosswalk of Ward/Victoria. Bad in dry weather - absolutely treacherous in rain, snow, ice, slush. Think people who walk: particularly those with mobility-issues. Wheelchairs, strollers.

Just one example of over years periodically refilled potholes is the one on Edgewood, between High and Vernon. Particularly dangerous because cars and bikes love zooming along there.

The US Federal Highway Administration Manual "cites the throw-and-roll method (used to refill and refill this particular pothole and many more in Nelson) as the most basic method but notes that the failure rate of expedient repairs (such as this type) is high, and that they can cost much more than properly done repairs."

While Acting Mayor/Chair Cherbo cites the top-part of Stanley as an example of good road-work being done now. Why there is a head-scratcher, with minimal vehicular traffic - even counting fire-engines -  in the area. Keeping streets most traveled - leading to/from downtown - in good repair would be more to the point.

While at least some road-work - no matter of what quality - has been done over time: sidewalks have been ignored.

No amount of additional funding for road-repairs will be of public benefit, unless a comprehensive, outward-from-the-
core vision is locked-in - and well-supervised while implemented.

Bringing the Cop Shop into this would help greatly: they know about the dangers of potholes - and where to find them for Public Works.

After I - several times - bring-up poor planning and the lack of fiscal responsibility - in connection with road-repairs and the theoretical loss of substantial revenue from 40 parking-meters - without receiving an adequate response: Acting Mayor/Chair Cherbo tells me that I am repeating myself.

God knows - I try!

About Decisions:
City Hall floats vaguely connected in-house ideas in-house - but there is no vision of Nelson as an ever-evolving whole with all-interrelating components.
Committee of the Whole sounds good - but it's really a catchy name for a Council Meeting only.

Nobody is referring to Stores-to-Shores any more: it's just Hall Street. Kevin Cormack, CAO, made that quite clear the other day when he emphasized it was all about infrastructure. In other - not his - words: we are not to expect the leisurely green tourist-friendly/luring walk to the lake any longer, we were promised initially
Silly us have been waiting and waiting for. 


Huffington Post Canada

Colin McClure, CFO

Colin Innes, Public Works

City Council

Pam Mierau, Development Services Mgr.

Megan Squires, Sr. Planner 

Monday, 13 March 2017

Facebook Intimacy

The range of 8,760 documents leaked from within the CIA Center of Cyber Intelligence - recently made public by Wikileaks - rather substantiates that the American hoopla around much of what Russia may have done hackingwise to destabilize whatever in the US: is more of the habitual detraction by the proverbial people throwing rocks while living in a glass house. To keep in mind - no matter who is president: destabilizing foreign governments is the CIA's bread & butter.

Blessed (should) be the leakers and whistleblowers for telling that "cyber warfare" with "cyber weapons" has been run by many gamers, for some time and all over the only Internet there is: mostly by Americans though and not only on foreign soil. Operating within the US ostensibly a no-no for the CIA.

Ostensibly - as soon you may find that possibility uncomfortably close to home - literally - with even worshiping at your TV not safe any longer. It (THEY!) could be listening to you carrying on! Also - using your smartish phone is not necessarily all that smart any longer.
You may think: I'm sorry - none of this could happen here - we're nice Canadians. Again: there's only one Internet, period! So - of course it could!

"I know who you are, and I'm coming to get you!" soon, and there's nothing you can do about it.


Unless you get with the program(ming) of Mark Zuckerberg's also recent "Building Global Community": 5,700 words on his Facebook page, along the lines of

"To our community,
In times like these, the most important thing we at Facebook can do is develop the social infrastructure to give people the power to build a global community that works for all of us."

Interestingly - this is addressed to "our community", and "we at Facebook" decide what "works for all of us". A new world-order according to Brother Mark. With lots of fuzzy-comfy "Friends, Likes, Shares".
Scientology deja voo all over again!

So far this sermon from the Sugar Mount (Zuckerberg in translation) has generated
5,842 Facebook "Comments"
11,662 Facebook "Shares"
87,838 Facebook "Likes" (as does Martha Stewart, so it is written).

Federico Solmi

Coming from his finally openly declared role as savior of all and everything - this may seem a tad '70s and longwinded. How many will actually make it their own objectively, what with Zuck (as "we at Facebook" call him affectionately) conceding earlier that Facebook has dumbed you down of late. Fake-news and all.
You dumb enough yet?
So - for now - here clicking on Like is the safe way to go for most. Maybe-followers. What with no Don't Like option presented - there's no need for personal decisions: sigh of relief!

Superficially - Brother Mark here presents himself as one of the angels - with Trumping, cybering and what-not on the other - the dark - side. 
But while he has kept everybody busy looking at each other's baby pictures: his bigger plan has actually been rolling out for some time.
Even in little-bitty Nelson.

Facebook/Nelson Star
With Facebook by now known for having become very proficient at helping sift through personal (largely emotion-based) dross, it has been contracted for profit to do this kind of work within specific contexts - like newspaper-readership manipulation.

For some time the flow of readers' Comments at the Nelson Star/Black Hole, the rest of the Black Press chain, as well as other-owned papers - has been independently run by Facebook. At the bottom of each Star web-page - under "Commenting FAQ" - the exhaustive "Facebook Comments: Frequently Asked Questions" lays out not necessarily reality-based terms for reader-engagement.
Facebook taking on an arguably basic editorial function. The implications are scary: for now and - even more so - the future

While in the past one could post/read comments directly to/on the Star's website - this is now possible only for Facebook subscribers. The same applies to emailing articles.

What should concern all readers - however - is that as soon as you click on a particular webpage-heading (HOME, NEWS, OPINION...) you are automatically identified as either Facebookers or heretics.
One - seemingly neutral - click!
As soon as!

Facebookers - clicking on the Comments number indicated above individual write-ups - will be taken to them directly.

Non-believers may! initially see the Comments number indicated, but clicking on that will automatically turn all numbers on all pages to 0
Yet if they sign on the dotted line - voila! - they not only can read and post comments: they also become members of "our community".
Actually - in reverse order!

While all this raises major questions about bias at Facebook and integrity at the Star and other papers, it demonstrates the exclusivity - by now entitlement! - of "our community"!

Yet this single click - theoretically so far, as far as we (don't) know - soon may also lead those in control directly totally into the murkiest depths of the "community's" most personal dross and its manifestations. Who knows? Zuck knows! Not that the adoring "community" cares.

Equally scary is/should be that a non-believer's single click - leading nowhere specifically revealing - could raise a red flag!
Hiding something?

Sooo - ultimately/actually - how different could "our community" be(come) from the dark side?

"Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean it's not happening."

The comfort-level of the flock's collective/collected banality - by design - is demonstrated in the use of "Like".

"Nelson passes cannabis bylaw"
                                      Star, Mar 7, 2017
indicates 17 "Comments" and 141 "Likes".

More specific interest is possibly expressed in these 17 "Comments".
141 believers clicking on "Like" means what: aside from mental sluggishness and a vague desire to belong to something more important than oneself. Like - what exactly is to "Like" here? Reporter, councillors, cannabis, bylaw, dispensaries, zoning, fee - lunch?

"Heartbeats have no sound on Facebook."
                                                     Growing Home
                                                                   Lee Reid

David Black, Chairman

Rick O'Connor, President

Eric Lawson, Publisher - Nelson Star

Bill Metcalfe, Editor - Nelson Star    

Monday, 6 March 2017



Looking for free parking: now that meters are to be $1.25, and seniors' passes are upped as well?
You've got 78 options.

Always check Hall first - between Herridge and Vernon: 
2 hrs, 41 spaces. No meters - as in free parking! - while just around the corner on Baker you pay whatever meter-rates. 
Go figure!

Co-op parking: 2 hrs, 37 spaces - ostensibly for shopping members. Shopping really won't take anyone more than 30 minutes, leaving another 90 for downtown chores plus coffee. Or you forget about the shopping and just park.
Seeing that the previous Council approved a Co-op parking-variance, allowing them to ridiculously actually cut required parking by half: they owe us!

It could be that the City is now adding to/compensating for this doozy it created by giving free parking to the Co-op along the stretch of Hall behind it. With said 41 spaces and from them most convenient access to the Co-op through the lane at DeVito's. 
Either would be weird, but then - the City/Co-op relationship has always been tight, even more so with Nelson Commons.    

Maybe (maybe!) there's something to City Hall now needing more funds for road-repair - potholes in roads and cracks in sidewalks ever deepening/widening for some time! - but conditions would be less drastic with continual (less pricey!) proper! maintenance over time, than an often again-and-again-same-hole band-aid approach by Public Works under Colin Innes - if any approach at all!

I remember a Star reader quite some time ago knowledgeably and in detail explaining how to fill potholes properly for good. Instead of!

Attempting to make funding happen through pass/meter rate-increases would only be reasonable if City Hall had already exhausted all other possibilities: with - for instance - 41 additional parking-meters on Hall (and where else?) 11 months ago!

Who is in charge of this down the rabbit-hole?
I mean.... seriously?

Also see post
Seniors' Parking Pass Increase
21 Feb, 2017
2nd below

Martine Bedin

Colin McClure, Chief Financial Officer

City Council

Pam Mierau, Manager - Development Services

Colin Innes, Director - Public Works

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Stores to (What?) Shores - Phase 2

If you should want to enter the soon to be Prestige & Waterfront Park (now the Dog Walk parking-lot) through a recently approved new entrance inexplicably farther east, you will do so in a complicated and dangerous approach.

Problem 1
Coming down Hall from Front you keep right for your turn into Lakeside. While tall, dense trees block your sightline to the park entrance and oncoming traffic from the mall: you immediately need to somehow get over to the Lakeside-center during this right-turn, what with the park entrance on the Lakeside-left and relatively close.
Without being able to indicate moving left towards it until you actually are on Lakeside proper - too late! - your quick drift to the center by necessity is too sudden too confusing too dangerous. This with airport-to-mall traffic, cars close behind you from Hall, as well as pedestrians out-of-nowhere crossing towards the lake on the new south-north crosswalk - only its far side visible just before you turn. All this needing an even astute driver's fullest attention.

Problem 2
Oddly - Lakeside is to be narrowed here. Therefore, once you align with the park entrance in the middle of the road, those behind you will be stuck while you wait for a break in oncoming traffic.
Plus - there may be a car attempting to leave the entrance/exit-funnel, possibly to turn towards the mall. This can't happen because while you block the exit you also can't back-up to let it. Stuck in a conundrum!

Problem 3
The Prestige Lakeside Resort receives deliveries counter-clockwise via the funnel. So when entering it you may suddenly be face-on with a truck leaving, as because of the exit's S-shape and trees you are not clearly visible to each other.
Meaning: one of you may need to back-up. Problematic for the truck in this S-curve - and you because you can't back into Lakeside traffic.


Problem 4
Tourists driving down Hall for the Stores-to-Shores experience won't know how to get to the shores-part because it's blocked.
In fact - once past the train-tracks they may hardly see the lake behind the Hall Street Waterfront Park (previously the straightforward entrance) and "signage" in it. This needing to be practically billboard-size to inform the ignorant quickly and clearly what/how once they have crossed the tracks.
Expecting these already confused tourists to then suddenly go through the same difficult routine as locals is astonishingly short-sighted of the WSP/MMM Group planning and Council approving this catastrophe-in-the-making.

Particularly perplexing as - under "Preliminary Design Goals" - the planners' Council-approved presentation promises "improving traffic & pedestrian safety".

Problem 5
Actually this plan needs Prestige approval before the planners - supposedly - can move on to the next, more detailed design-stage. One expects they will ask more questions than Council.

Here it gets murky, because even if the Prestige should reject the plan-as-is: the WSP/MMM Group gets paid anyway - since Council approved it. And seeing that plans now already are being further developed, based on those approved by Council: the more required changes - the more money! 
It boggles the mind why the Prestige wasn't consulted before this "preliminary design" was put together and presented to/approved by Council.

Who will require/supervise changes, seeing that Council's involvement ostensibly was over after signing-off on the basic concept - as it was with Phase 1. Leaving decision-making then and now to ...? The public was never told with Phase 1.  Will there be a repeat with Phase 2?

This reminds of the Cottonwood Market, where Council threw $82.600 at the Cover Architectural Collaborative for a totally inappropriate design - ultimately quietly rejected some time ago. But the architects were paid regardless and still are with one recent payment of $2.299.50.

In view of expected future development in the area, and with the public so far unimpressed with Stores-to-Shores, Phase 1 - a more conscious approach to Phase 2 would be appropriate. This including the Nelson Police Department for real-time "traffic & pedestrian safety" matters. As well as the Nelson Fire Department for emergency-access to the property.

So why not just somewhat streamline the entrance-as-is-now - but otherwise simply and directly leave it wide-open to the shores. Welcoming!

Save money, too!

City Council

Deb Kozak, Mayor

Pam Mierau, Development Services

John Lebleu, General Manager

Kevin Cormack, CAO

Colin McClure, CFO

Colin Innes, Public Works