Appeared in North Shore News – March 18, 2011
Yo, West Vancouverites, ecstatic that four new towers are being planned for our supposedly unique, environmentally sensitive and extremely expensive town?
Or is that the sort of density you fled from in lesser places, willing and able to pay super-premium prices for West Vancouver’s beauty, space, views, quietude?
Marine Drive and 13th is up for redevelopment and the Ambleside Safeway site could soon see 10 or 15 storeys transforming — or trashing — the small-shops area.
The old Wetmore Motors site — bought by the Ron Wood council for a canny $5.56 million, sold at what I’d call a ridiculous giveaway $14.5 million for an essentially forever 125-year lease — is a focus for furious opposition to a planned seven-storey building.
And now on Park Royal’s south side, where a consultant is looking at more retail space and apartments, probably a 20-storey tower. More blocking of sky and sunset all around — and there’s more in the wings that Town Hall hasn’t revealed.
If they’re built, today’s Lions Gate Bridge and Taylor Way-Marine Drive paralysis will look like a Saskatchewan back road in January, and the turtling reconstruction at this end of the bridge will be obsolete before it’s finished.
Now throw in the City of North Vancouver’s massive Harbourside plan. Expect a re-start of the failed Third Crossing debate of the early 1980s, which sputtered out in argument over a tunnel — fortunately.
Experienced municipal reporter Frances Bula told CKNW listeners that downtown developers stupidly (arrogantly?) think they can impose Yaletown style on Ambleside.
The 250 West Vancouver citizens who turned out to view plans last week largely said otherwise.
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Official Community Plan, definition: A set of inflexible municipal rules instantly dissolved by money.
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There’s a guarded hint that former West Vancouver councillor Vivian Vaughan might run for the mayoralty.
In 2008, Vaughan was only 600 votes behind Mayor Pam Goldsmith-Jones, who won re-election with just 40 per cent of votes cast in a three-way race. Without John Clark’s late entry this time around, who knows?
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Premier Christy (The Smile That Ate British Columbia) Clark has elevated the charming, savvy North Vancouver-Lonsdale MLA Naomi Yamamoto, previously Minister of State for Intergovernmental Relations and more recently for building code renewal, to Minister of Advanced Education.
Interesting times. B.C. members of Parliament Stockwell Day, Chuck Strahl and John Cummins are retiring from the federal Conservative government. What a coincidence. Cummins specifically is helping resuscitate the long-snoring provincial Conservatives, who claim a huge percentage rise in membership to about 2,000.
If Strahl’s health allowed it, I’d peg him for a populist leader who could rally the many disgruntled, likely removing the Clark smile to New Democrat faces.
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Gregoz Gawronski of North Vancouver takes brisk issue with unfashionable gold denier Stephen Jarislowsky, quoted here, who dared anyone to “go into a grocery store with an ounce of gold in his hot little fist.”
“Paper money is just an IOU, nothing more or less, paper that in real emergency will be instantly worthless,” Gawronski writes.
“However, thanks to gold, many people survived the (second world) war. It has a universal value; it cannot be multiplied like the American dollars; it was used to bribe the Germans during the war.
“They wouldn’t think of taking any ‘paper money’ no matter whose head was printed on the bills. My great-great-grandfather had a vase full of Russian golden Imperials; the whole family survived the war thanks to that.
“I dare anyone to go into a grocery store with a pocket full of paper money in his hot little fist . . . in a few years, it will be worthless! So I say, hold on to gold.”
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Neil Thompson, who periodically vents his views in these pages, rudely slams MLA Ralph Sultan’s report citing poverty in rich West Vancouver — among single moms and some immigrants.
Why the hell, says Thompson, are single moms and poor immigrants trying to live in the most expensive community in the country?
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So there I was trundling through a fine review in the Times Literary Supplement of Norman Stone’s book on the Cold War when I snapped to full attention.
Reviewer Charles King, musing on the Cold War triumph of the Atlantic (read: Western) nations, concluded that if the West is now to be salvaged “its nobler virtues are probably scepticism, competition, restraint, tolerance and fairness — or for lack of a better label, being Canadian.”
King’s praise continues: “Those miserly creditors, reasonable multiculturalists, anglocentric francophiles and stalwart peacekeepers may in time come to be seen as the model post-Cold Warriors.”
All this plus The Economist again naming Vancouver the world’s most liveable city. Once Canadians overcome our modesty, we’ll be perfect.
© Trevor Lautens, 2011