Monday, 14 April 2014

Nelson: Developers Dream (On!)

Nelson now has 3 major condo-developments in the works - about 90 units total - in various stages of support by City Council. Seemingly the developers see something we underdeveloped don't: a market for them.
But first:

Kutenai Landing
Slogan: New Future. This slogan/name alone should be a warning - it isn't. Careless determination of the developer's financial ability by an inept thus promptly stubborn Council/Staff moves the project along for an exasperating while - fortunately said ability crashes even for Council to hear and making the project fall off the map.
And a good thing too - with its height ever higher, a large section of the lake just given away and Council spitefully digging-in: there is a substantial outcry against it all - including Council - by the public.
Its current status - rezoning, variances and all that - is unknown to us. And even though this misadventure should have alerted City Hall to finally locking-in definitive long-longed-for rules for the waterfront: this still hasn't happened - the Sustainable Downtown and Waterfront Master Plan is that in name only.

Have they learned from the experience as a whole? It seems not - see below.

Nelson Commons
No matter what the spin: this project - ostensibly coming from currently much bandied-about density/mixed-use wonderfulness of real cities - actually is generated by sudden panic over having to make as much money as possible as quickly as possible to pay off the way-too-large property the Kootenay Co-op buys in the delirious swoon of an ego-centric few at the top. And condos above the store seem the quick fix. While hardly co-oppy! A Dr. Faustus bargain.

The City - shades of Kutenai Landing, eager to give the shop away again - is so ready for this one: City Planning prepares the ground literally for a far-ranging parking-variance even before it is applied for. Planned with considerable time and focus: not according to a Nelson need but to save Nelson Commons money - at the expense of the Nelson taxpayer. And then approved unquestioned in one of Council's predigested rituals.

In an attempt to put a face on a bad situation Villa Kelowna is born: remarkable only for its unimaginatively conservative - but soothing to many - appearance in what should be the vibrant heart of Nelson. Marketed as a place for those who want to down-size: including on children, not mentioned in sales pitches.

Much has been written about the project - bottom-line now: with lack of enough firm commitment from buyers, an actual physical go-ahead has been moved back and back. Bleeding major member-money in the process. With you there because you're already there there not a certainty any longer.
So there!

Nelson Landing
Storm Mountain Development is advertising 8 townhouses within a $400.000 range, between 1.324 and 1.389 square-feet.
Vague images of front/back have an insubstantial southern vacation-rental feel - so how can you be sure of getting on with the neighbors and their children in your face/ears and what if you can't then what! For that price.

Commencement of construction is subject to preselling 6 townhouses and is expected to start in June 2014, with completion in six to eight months.
                                                           Nelson Star, 24 Jan, 2014

The pattern is the same as that of Nelson Commons: they need firm commitments - money changing hands! - before the banks will step in. And that this very minute - as they want to start construction in a month or so! Their confidence knowing no bounds: with demand they are willing/ready to start constructing even more units now. 
The dizzying speed with which this developer expects the project to move forward demonstrates the slow learning-curve of his market-perception.

The Crossing at Granite Pointe
West Creek Developments are planning 24 to 30 (a substantial difference) condos in 3 buildings on 1.3 acres. Density in a city is one thing - density of a large group of strangers in woodsy-quiet isolation is another. Plus - at least in amateurish and ugly renderings - the project as a whole is an eyesore. In terms of aesthetics and livability - the least desirable of the 3 developments.
After an area-resident expresses worries about children possibly not safe any longer running around freely in added Crossing traffic - Councillor Batyckie makes an unfortunate quip about keeping them yarded. Not amusing anyone. And there will be no yards at The Crossings either! While the development accepts the possibility of families.

Sizes of condos range from 800 over 1.500 to 1.600 square-feet - all to be under $300.000. Like where exactly? Extras? 16 hundred square-feet make a condo here larger than a whole townhouse at Nelson Landing - that going for about 400-or-so grand.
How many units need to be sold before the big money has not been made public.

"This particular builder has found a niche that he seems to be able to work in quite well," Mayor Dooley said, noting the dwellings would be priced less than $300.000. "All their units are well positions (sic) to be sold and get people into the entry level market."
                                           Sam Van Schie, Nelson Star, 12 Mar, 2014

The sales-pitch here seems to be entry-level/starter-homes, yet usually those are fixer-uppers to eventually be flipped for a next bigger/better one - not unattractive live-in condos with not much value-appreciation in sight.
Then there's the starter-home/golfing dichotomy.

The golf course would benefit from the development because residents living so close to the green would likely buy memberships.
                                            Sam Van Schie, Nelson Star, 8 Jan, 2014

Would those in a "starter-attitude" condo buy memberships - at what price/fees?- like are they golfers with all the time in the world and the very expensive gear?
While - at the same time - anyone who lived here (sic) would probably want to golf more, according to Peter Muirhead, liaison between club and developer. But then he continues with The golf industry has changed - the younger generation aren't really joiners - we need to find different ways to maintain our membership numbers.

Golf more? Clearly - he is after an older, more affluent, possibly more demanding crowd. Will their demands be met in these condos?
Whatever - who's the target-buyer here?

These 3 developments run concurrently must severely limit chances of any one of them actually ever happening: look at Nelson Commons even while still having the market to itself.

All not only lack market-awareness but also a reality-based vision of themselves. Making them flawed - possibly fatally so.

1. Kootenay Country Store Co-operative - Nelson Commons
2, 3 Nelson Star/Storm Mountain Development - Nelson Landing
4, 5 Nelson Star/West Creek Development - The Crossing at Granite Pointe                                                       

Wednesday, 9 April 2014


Regular Council Meeting, 7 Apr. 2014

Council's look at a rezoning-application to allow for construction of condo clusters at 2000 Choquette Ave - the golf course - follows very passionate presentations by area-residents against the development.
Their issues include roads/traffic; additional cars/parking; lack of sidewalks; safety of children at this time able to play in a basically open setting; loss of quality of life-as-is-now for which most came to live here.

Patrick Davis - developer - presents his project, with support from the golf-club guy and a realtor: both smelling money-money-money! You build it - they'll come! Simple!

At some point Mayor Dooley announces needing to bring this meeting to an end shortly: he will do so by 3 times banging his gavel. He does a bit later, and that should be that - but THEN the developer says he wants to present some clarifications based on the residents' issues. Not having asked for this before or when the mayor announces the imminent end of the meeting.

Receiving permission from the mayor without hesitation, Davis aims for advantage in a last-ditch effort to soothe - not lessening the apprehension of those possibly affected within his plans.

And when they want to respond: they are peremptorily choked-off by the mayor with the meeting has been officially closed. For them - not the developer. How Harper! And they become incensed again, now over this preferential treatment afforded the developer, what with the mayor's blatant judgement-call denying them democratic process.

They leave - you can't fight city hall! - and councillors get down to voicing their deeply-explored opinions on the development's merits.

Councillor Cherbo raises a crucial issue: The traffic-impact study run for/by the developer in December at Council's request. Not the December part. Which to him - as former and experienced highway man - is a totally inappropriate time for such a study. The rest of Council - no highway men they - see no problem with the report - period. And agree with its predictable gist of no significant negative impact expected from the development. Of course they wouldn't - having varianced and rezoned enthusiastically from Kutenai Landing condos over Nelson Commons condos to Nelson Landing condos for days.
I can see what may be Cherbo's point - while not even a driver. In that usually very densely green area - but in December with far less vegetation on the ground and no leaves on underbrush and many trees: clearly even awkward stretches of roads and intersections then are visually far easier to maneuver.

Councillor Kozak raises another point, also finding no traction: With prices of the development's condos supposedly in the 200 thousands (they're all uniform and no-frills and teeny-weeny one-size-fits-all?) there's the realtor-come-on: young-family/starter-home talk. Kozak wonders how many people have even that kind of money. I wonder which young family - potentially/eventually growing - would put down that kind of money on a place they'll outgrow by tomorrow.

Rezoning is approved.

With Nelson Commons' go-ahead dodgier by the day; Nelson Landing at whatever presell-to-whom? stage and now this: where do/will all the buyers come from suddenly and all at once? The basically weak market is becoming more and more diluted - Council trilling every time won't this be great for Nelson we need the tax-revenue!

What tax-revenue? And what is the status of the so sloppily handled Kutenai Landing anyway? What did Council learn from that? And what will happen with all the rezoning and variancing if/when these projects don't get off the ground as planned and inevitably are diddled with?

Back to Start for the City and do not collect 200 - in fact - the not-in-on-this taxpayer paying and paying again and again for City Hall's efforts in these processes?

Rhetorical questions.

Images: Patrick Caulfield

Monday, 31 March 2014

Mungall MLAise

This follows
Michelle Mungall's Travel-Bug, 28 Mar, 2014,
immediately below this post.

Of course - Victoria's Accompanying Person Travel Expenses cover all significant others/aides of all BC MLAs - not just Michelle Mungall's: but she ostensibly is my go-to in Victoria.
I say ostensibly because over time I did go-to repeatedly: without so much as an acknowledgement from her - not even her office. Not once!
Now we learn she occupies the top spot on the 85 MLAs' travel-companion-expense list! A second-issue/what's-next disconnect for me. And while not responsible for Victoria-culture - she very clearly is very comfy with it.
While I am not: so here I focus on her.
Learning Mungall!

As Speaker Reid's published list does not offer a break-down into who and how much for what - superficially dealing with "flights" only - questions in connection with before/after flights and while in Victoria present themselves.
Considering that Castlegar-Victoria-Castlegar flights take 3-4 hours, an aide would probably spend at least 2 nights in Victoria - 2 days pretty much gone with flights, etc. This to have 1 whole day for training. Hmmm!
Mungall's $7.806 total divided by 8 brings one trip to a median of about $975 - cutting it rather close for an aide but providing amply for a husband.

Expenses - Aides/Husband
Who - during their stay - pays for transportation between places of concern in Victoria? (Taxis?)
Where do out-of-town aides stay in Victoria? (Hotels?) Assuming that the husband stays and eats with Mungall.
Who pays for these aides' several meals per day? (Restaurants?)
How many fly-worthy aides does Mungall have in her Nelson-Creston district?
The ones trained in Victoria last year.
Does the allowance for aides apply to the husband equally?

Expensive Expenses
All this flitting-about according to a there commonly accepted institutionalized insiders'-racket - refined over time: it needs to be questioned pronto! Disinclination to be transparent from the top down raises integrity- thus believability-issues around all those supposed to have our - not their! - best interests at heart. This even within whatever party of our choice - the only good guys!
Of course - much of the above is hypothetical because we don't know whether aides actually did fly during last year's 9 months and if how many times. I am just following the trail of crumbs: Mungall saying on the CBC that her aides were flown to Victoria for training. While - surely a P.R. move but not a wise one! - not how many times and not mentioning her husband at all. As for the aides' need to go - what with Skype, webinars, inter-governmental web-possibilities: why go at all?

Direct MLA Expenses - Mungall
While rattling the piggy-bank - just curious:
Assuming Mungall lives by herself in a taxpayer-funded apartment: how much does it cost?
How much are her personal away-from-home-, schmooze-, and whatever-allowances for Victoria altogether? This aside from her salary which - by the way - is how much?
What is the total of Mungall's directly work-related allowances for Victoria - including all: from paperclips to staff?
What is the total of Mungall's electoral-district related allowances - including all: from office-space over paperclips to staff?

How much in total does it cost us per year to just keep 85 BC MLAs on their feet and shouting - never mind producing for us. And how much specifically does it cost us per year to further Michelle Mungall's political career in Victoria?

So I go to the office - at 402 Baker, as advertised on Mungall's official local-contact website, with a map how to get there yet - to find it's been moved. Right!
At the new office - a very substantial whole building of quality and space - I introduce myself to 2 staff-members - He and She: they don't introduce themselves in return - asking for answers to a few questions. Like did you fly to Victoria last year for training?
Says She: I don't want to tell you that because you write a blog (which I had not told them I guess she knew (of) me and why would that be a reason for not telling me if you've got nothing to hide unless you were told not to or you're worried about your job) - but I can give you the name of someone who can give you more information.
Say I: You can't tell me whether you flew to Victoria last year? I am a constituent!

Shades of the Harper playing it ever so close to the chest. And it went downhill with her from there. Definitely not in vote-wooing mode. Off-point explanations about Mungall's top-position: in terms of money only and there was fog and actually fewer flights than others and we were allowed 12.

To keep this short: there are 3 staff-members - 2 in Nelson/1 in Creston - and all 3 flew to Victoria last year. Says she. Leaving 5 flights unaccounted for - with no mention of 5 husband-flights or anyone else's. Within 9 months - not 1 year.

I am no longer ready to vote for a particular party just to help defeat another particular party. Too many here have been doing that for too long - turning the local NDP's political currency into fool's gold.


Friday, 28 March 2014

Michelle Mungall's Travel-Bug

Recently the BC legislature made public a list of how much we got to spend for MLAs flying people hither-and-yon under Accompanying Person Travel Expenses.

This practice goes back to practically day one - when modes of transportation and long-distance communication were still limited - and those running BC needed someone from home to warm their feet in Victoria. Singles may have been left out in the cold with this one but who knows. So they allowed themselves 12 trips per year - at taxpayers' expense - and seeing that they didn't (and don't!) sit 12 months: this may have meant warm feet just about all the time.

Somewhere along the line this toing-and-froing began to allow for aides as well, whose presence MLAs just couldn't do without at all like. 
And today this page still is a most important one in Victoria's very silverlined playbook: MLAs are allowed to fly an accompanying person 12 times a year.
And that is the list now made public. No choice - otherwise it wouldn't have happened.

Covering BC's 85 MLAs - between 1 Apr, 2013 and 31 Dec, 2013 - $125.310 were spent on 233 trips. Not part of this are $55.922 Speaker Linda Reid approved separately, without breaking them down on the list. Because she didn't have to. And we don't know how the big money breaks down between spouses' warm feet and aides' warm hands. Because we don't need to know.
14 MLAs - for unexplained reasons - didn't partake in the feeding at the public trough.

Michelle & Zak Mungall

Topping the list of 71 MLAs - in terms of money spent on flights - is:
Michelle Mungall, NDP (Nelson - Creston)
with 8 trips - within 9 months - at $7.806.
Her explanation - on CBC Radio, 28 Mar, 2014: sometimes an aide accompanies her to Victoria for training. She didn't refer to the hubby.

Seeing that Mungall has been in this job for quite some time now - one wonders how much more training her local minions still need there. In person - what with the Internet and surely everything Victoria and on it.
Mind you - my letter left at Mungall's headquarters during her last election-campaign was never acknowledged; neither were two e-mails I sent to her official Victoria address later.
So there may be a training-deficit, indeed. Unless it's just carelessness or not caring.
Enough already I said to myself: cancelling my subscription to her newsletter. No enquiry why from her end. And a message sent separately - briefly explaining my reasons - didn't prompt a reply either.

Something to drink? Peanuts?

Michelle & Zak Mungall - 

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

One BIG Thing!

This follows
Bike Rack(et) 
24 Feb, 2014,
a few posts below.

Nelson's economy is completely dependent on motor-vehicles taking stuff and people in/through/out. Simply: Nelson wouldn't exist without them.

Thus voices proclaiming that more bike-racks added to the downtown-core will automatically add significantly more bicycles while disappearing private cars, taxis, buses, pick-ups, vans, RUVs, SUVs, trucks is naively utopian - Nelson at its most Brigadoon.

Motor-vehicles are here to stay. And the same voices championing this bike-utopia as the way to go today - accept the parallel dystopia of unavoidably increasing parking-needs.
While one or the other image is nudged forward - we haven't yet but need to find a way to accept/connect both, with a third component: those who walk.

The Walmart-Entrance Syndrome
With the increase of motor-vehicles - let's just call them cars here to simplify - particularly downtown will become more and more congested, what with the local mentality of parking-as-close-as-possible-to-the-Walmart-entrance. And the hoped-for more tourists - our bread-and-butter.

Downtown could be a much more pleasant - the ideal - experience without cars driving up-and-down Baker and parking there. Baker would be safer, much wider thus leave room for bike-lanes. But cars of those having downtown-business need to be put somewhere - and we wouldn't want to frighten the horses (tourists), so there needs be parking at least close by.
We don't have enough available space for additional horizontal parking - so clearly we need to go vertical: smallest possible base and going up from there.

A parkade. We have one already: reasonable rates and never completely full. Partly because of the Walmart-entrance mindscape and partly because of its dingy Blade Runner optics. Built a long time ago to be functional only - in those days nobody here thinking of a parkade as a possibly interesting - certainly not integral - part of the downtown. And no attention-grabbing signage for strangers how to find it.
It does have a - seemingly incongruous - right-on "feature" though. During the traditional and very well-attended annual downtown car-extravaganza - there's a dance on top of the parkade. Genius! I haven't been so I have nothing to say about what's going on, but there it is every year. A single event a year! I will come back to this.

The One BIG Thing
We all know that Nelson is nice at a nice lake with nice mountains just like many other nice BC towns at a nice lake with nice mountains. Having really no industry except for growing weed (successfully!) and tourists (not so much!). The weed-thing is not legal-thus-reliable and could be at the end of its current course soon - so all we may be left with is tourism. Why they should come here, stay at least over-night and shop for tchotchkes is an open question. So Nelson needs something to make it unique: one big exceptional thing! Something to draw tourists to Nelson as a destination because of its quality.

An Exceptional Parkade
Today parking-garages have become part of an overall aesthetic - often designed by world-class architects. Not just functional as a temporary box for cars - but as a statement in themselves: to enter as an intriguing environment, to become part of, move around in and leave feeling transformed - day and night. A piece of lived-in art!
Taken further on various levels: parties, exhibits, small concerts (the sound!). Dances and performances on the roof.
With exclusive retail-space on the ground-floor and sheltered/guarded bike-storage close to the entrance - inside.

Because of its superb architectural quality people feel drawn to visit, park, shop and be entertained - they don't mind walking a few blocks from/to it. And once they are walking.....!

City Hall has moved forward as far as its from the outside imposed expensive generic, large-urban-centered Downtown/ Waterfront "Master" Plan. Doing as it's told. It's time for Nelson to get real - because only Nelson can know what the real Nelson is, could be.

My parkade-suggestion to City Planning, 3 Feb 2012, elicited no response, and ideas for one large exceptional piece - instead of lots of bitsy busywork without a reason to live, like "artistically created" bike-racks - are usually met with that would cost millions and we haven't got them. Really meaning: a lack of vision of Nelson's future. Not artistic vision - vision, period!

Willingness leads to opening-up to a need leads to establishing a clear intention leads to funding. Looking at funding first precludes creative process.

From Brigadoon to Nelson!

That Nelson!

Parking Garages:
Sydney, Australia
Birmingham, England
Miami, Brooks + Scarpa
Miami, Florida
Santa Monica, California
Melbourne, Australia

Monday, 17 March 2014

Heart on Fire!

Not Johnny Cash - but Shirley Bond, BC Jobs Minister, announcing recently that the BC Government - by amending the Workmen's Compensation Act - has again made heart-disease/attacks/death of fire-fighters a job-related issue, to be recognized by WorkSafeBC and forthwith compensated without the inconvenient need to prove the condition actually being job-related. This in BC only.
Heart-conditions will now join 10 other already as job-related accepted diseases, including leukemia, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, bladder and brain-cancer.

The heart. According to The Canadian Press*: Mike Rispin, a 22-year firefighting veteran from Vancouver Island said he has seen colleagues collapse from heat exhaustion, and he knows of at least one Nanaimo firefighter who suffered a heart attack and died fighting a fire.
Within 22 years knows of at least one heart-attack resulting in death - what does at least mean here?

Back to Bond: We know that the risks you face every single day include carbon monoxide, thousands of chemicals, airborne particulates, noise and physical stress. We know that you work in a hazardous workplace. You should not have to go through the anxiety of having to prove that you've been impacted with heart injury or a heart attack.
Her list really covers all: from soldier to miner, mill/factory-worker even basic urbanite.
Soldiers are frequently killed by directly work-related circumstances - after having gone through all the above - or kill themselves because they don't have a fat-cat union supporting them - if they sort-of survive their lines of fire.

A Nelson fire-fighter - in conversation with me - does not refer to any of the listed conditions/contributors. Joining Mike Rispin in saying it's the stress on the heart - the sudden adrenaline rush. Like major coffee-infusions?


Yet - according to The Globe and Mail**: Thanks to modern safety-standards there are few fires left to fight. These days, most fire department calls are medical. To prove that they are still needed, fire departments have been adding defibrillators and Jaws of Life, frantically expanding their repertoires to respond to even minor non-fire emergencies. Still, there's an awful lot of what we shall euphemistically call "down time", which firemen fill by preparing meals, sleeping, watching television, polishing trucks and rewinding hoses.
Not to forget pumping iron, oiling-up and posing for calendars.

Yet in most of my research - including Minister Bond - the same fire-fighters fight fires every single day all day long - like all the time! How many fires has the Nelson Fire Department fought in 2013? This year?

So they are looking for support from Council against a pending rule-change within the BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) Resource Allocation Plan which would - as I understand this - reduce certain ambulance services of First Responders by 35%. It's a no-brainer that Council should do this - but the fighters communicate poorly to Council, clearly not having proactively communicated with ambulance handlers and 911 at the cop-shop either. Spreading blame while looking for sympathy - kindly willing to step in here.
But Chief Grypma - not present and with much more what's-what - states at the end of his written reasons to Council against reductions: We are staffed and deployed for fires - everything else we do is a bonus and extra value. Extra as in extra money - like heart-attacks! While rural-BC fires are fought by volunteers - not even a little extra for them!

And back to The Globe and Mail: Municipalities do not love firefighters. Across Canada, towns and cities are getting hosed by sky-rocketing costs of their fire departments. Thanks to arbitration settlements, your firefighters are the best paid (and possibly the most underworked) guys in town. Firefighters have been getting raises that are twice as high what other public sector workers have been getting, at a time when municipalities are strapped for funds, and raises are just a memory for most of us.

Nelson is no exception with salary-demands and demands for just about anything else under the sun - coming from entitlement; with the mayor - according to The Nelson Daily*** - voicing his frustration openly - wanting to change (the) process for bargaining with police and fire unions.
Which are not bargaining at all!

Neither are they a bargain: the median salary of a fire-fighter in Canada being $65.000 per year, but odd working-hours add overtime pay which can raise income to $100.000.

Nelson - where firefighting is a family-affair - recently advertises for auxiliary fire-fighters. According to the Nelson Star****: Ideally the composite fire department would have 21 auxiliary members to assist its 12 career fire-fighters. "We provide all the training they need to be certified as a Class 1 Fire-Fighter," Grypma said. Gaining that accreditation through a school would cost around $7000. Additionally, auxiliary fire fighters are provided with uniforms and turnout gear valued at $2500 and paid $14 per hour for the time they spend training or responding to calls.
Connect the dots! They should be happy to get paid anything at all and not having to fight fires in the nude - although they probably would if it meant for sure getting signed-on for the big money down the line.

Even with all those diseases and possibly death looming - job-openings are rare: it's an insider's game and major tsk-tsk. To become part of what Maclean's Magazine***** in this context refers to as the new upper class.

More Shirley Bond - a frequent fire-watcher: One of the things that has been ingrained in my memory is in circumstances where other people run out, you run in. That makes an enormous difference. 

BC Firefighters can now claim heart disease as job-related stress
The Canadian Press - 10 Mar, 2014
Dirk Meissner

A nation of $100.000 firefighters
The Globe and Mail - 8 Aug, 2013
Margaret Wente

Nelson wants to change process for bargaining with police and fire unions
The Nelson Daily - 4 Jul, 2013
Bill Metcalfe

Nelson Fire Rescue recruiting auxiliary fire fighters
Nelson Star - 13 Oct, 2013

The Upper Class
Maclean's Magazine - 22 Apr, 2013
Nancy MacDonald 


Sunday, 9 March 2014

Baker - Up In Smoke!

Rise and attempt to shine!

You know when you get up in the morning and can't bear look in the mirror because you just know you will never be able to get this face and this hair organized ever again so across the crowded room is totally out forever and instead you head straight for the coffee? First things first?

That's Baker Street now. Getting out of its snowy-white bed into yet another dull day at the end of winter because spring hasn't sprung - possibly won't climate-change and all. Make mine a double latte please!

It's the time for Baker to be seen as it really is: dingy old buildings; awnings with a life all their own; faded paint-jobs; empty store-fronts; litter-bins with a skin-disease; trees without life.

Gutters and raised flowerbeds filled with all the cigarette butts in the world!

This then is also the time to be reminded and acknowledge that since the mid-80s
City Council/Staff
Chamber of Commerce
Nelson Kootenay Lake Tourism (more recent)
Downtown Business Association
have done very little to give Nelson's face - Baker - any kind of beauty treatment except for the (today in every town obligatory) hanging flower-baskets much later and still we must be grateful for small blessings. And the trees when/if they come back to life and remain thus - Kevin Cormack, chainsaw at the ready!

Butting Out!

Usually owners sweep the stretch of sidewalk in front of their shops - butts and whatever. Sweeping to them means never mind disposing of stuff appropriately but right into the gutter. Somewhat covered by snow when we have it - but we don't now!  So there they are: mega butts of all winter plus more every day! Then there were/are drivers emptying their cars' ashtrays onto the street while parked. Open door - dump - close door!
Raised flowerbeds are convenient ashtrays and we must be grateful for these people's conscious effort not to litter indiscriminately!

Anything for the tourists (money), no?

They - spending time and money on Baker - may wonder what's with virginal snow above and ignorant hicks below. That and what's with gluten-free tree-huggers they've heard about and all this smoking-filth on the streets. And in the air!

Eh, Council, how about you and all the above-mentioned getting brooms and sweeping Baker! Organizing new waste-bins with a butting/butt box on top. Writing about it in the Star's Council Column - something for once original, for once worth communicating. Educating us ignorant hicks by example!  

Gotta light?
Mark Sykes
Mark Williamson