Appeared in the North Shore News – January 18, 2013
In time, as the Gershwins mused, the Rockies may crumble, Gibraltar may tumble, but love for West Vancouver is here to stay.
As proven by the following. I asked West Van’s three rookie councillors and first-term mayor to write essays on their first 12 months at town hall, no looking up the answers. Bright students. Some droll wit. Slightly condensed for space reasons: Nora Gambioli:
“Municipal government operations and issues are incredibly complex and interesting. The substantive work of council is more about being a ‘judge’ than I had anticipated; weighing the interests of those directly affected, precedent, and the other 44,000 residents who did not have a chance to attend a meeting, speak or write to council, or who are not yet old enough to do so, requires careful reasoning and difficult choices.
“As an educator at heart, I am constantly striving to communicate in practical ways that will encourage as many residents as possible to understand and become involved in local issues.
“Election campaigns are the most lengthy, demanding and expensive kinds of job interviews!
“As a member of the ‘sandwich generation’ (job, young kids, elderly parent) I’m now forced to be an even more highly efficient multi-tasker.
“Speaking of sandwiches, ate them for dinner every weeknight for almost three straight weeks in November (thanks to evening meetings) . . . husband not amused!
“So far, I love this work.”
“I have met dozens of smart and thoughtful residents who care deeply about this community. This has been very much a learning year for me, for while I had some understanding of our diversity through service as a school trustee, it has been deepened vis-a-vis seniors, First Nations, new Canadians, and those who struggle financially.
“It is often assumed that councillors receive a great deal of negative correspondence, but I have found the opposite to be true: most of the feedback I get is respectful, constructive, and even at times inspiring.
“I’m particularly pleased with the progress on new initiatives to support and engage our youth, including a revitalized youth centre. . . . We are off to a great start this new year as we open two new wonderful additions to our community – the new Teen Centre at our much-loved library, and the just-completed salmon rearing pond in Memorial Park, both of which only came about through unique collaboration between the municipality and its dedicated, engaged citizenry.”
Mayor Michael Smith:
“A priority during the past year has been to improve both the look and the vitality of Ambleside. The village atmosphere needs to be retained, but parts of Ambleside need to be refreshed. This spring we are making plans to take this to the public for its feedback.
“While we have had no property tax rate increase for the second year, I am somewhat disappointed by the pace of our review of the programs and services we offer. To help accomplish this, I have scheduled monthly public council meetings in 2013 that will deal only with financial issues and economic challenges.”
On political service: “You have to manage time effectively. I believe it is important that we ensure that citizens with careers can serve on council and offer their talents to the community.
“In summary, I have enjoyed the past year and look forward to the future.”
Personable Craig Cameron was first to express enthusiasm, but his reflective essay just missed my deadline. Wait for it.
. . .
Speaking of essays, I crashed the Fresh St. Market opening-eve party in my university student garb and used the power of the press to avoid getting tossed out. Invitees included suppliers, consultants and the distinguished.
“That’s a supermarket!” marvelled one, examining the lush seafood counter. “I want them!” a woman greedily hissed, staring at some sexy crab cakes. The high-end counters dramatically seduced the eye, all right. In contrast the prosaic canned goods aisles seemed narrow and shy.
Summed up, the “village” Mayor Smith referred to above looks as if it’ll be crushed out of existence between the glossy new store and the development Grosvenor seeks on the police station site.
But – hold on. There’s competition for the humble (and sharp) shopper’s dollar: Example, a couple of “ethnic” markets in the 1400-block of Marine Drive sell produce often sharply below typical supermarket prices.
. . .
Delightful: Minister of State for Seniors and West Vancouver-Capilano MLA Ralph Sultan, a coltish 70something, honouring ageless 95-year-old music man Dal Richards with the title Hepcat Laureate. Cool! Dig it! . . .
Sign of the hockey times: In a WV shop selling $200-plus pullovers branded with Canuck players’ names: “LUONGO 50%.”
. . .
I’m giving up lists. How could I have recently omitted from Vancouver Sun North Shore notables the amazing Malcolm Parry, whose narrative skills and encyclopaedic people recognition have raised the traditional “names” column to the reportorial pantheon?
© Trevor Lautens, 2013