Appeared in the North Shore News – January 31, 2014
Are Ambleside and other West Vancouver merchants doing enough to fight back at Park Royal, the behemoth on their doorstep? Pay attention to the idea of Leslie Plommer, who is both an insider and outsider: Born in West Vancouver and still closely in touch, she began as a summer reporter for The Vancouver Sun, moved to The Globe and Mail, London Times, and then for many years was an editor with London’s left-wing Guardian.
In a Christmas letter, Leslie wrote: “One of the many images that flash before my eyes at this time of year, as I pound the pavements of (London’s) West End trying to find presents for people who have everything, is the ridiculous saga of trying to buy a single, simple item in the Dundarave-Ambleside shopping area: A Christmas gift voucher.”
On a stopover in 2011 she worked her way through West Van seeking a gift voucher for her dying dad, prominent lawyer Robert Plommer, “who by that time was enduring nursing home cooking and (as a long-time lover, and cook, of Japanese food) was pining for a reliable source of prawn tempura. But not a single sushi place had gift vouchers! “Only when I finally reached tiny, immaculate Yanaki Sushi in the 1400-block of Marine Drive did I find staff with the business instincts to find a solution, instead of just saying ‘We don’t do that.’ Yanaki had no vouchers either, but what they could do was give me a payment receipt that would act as a voucher.
“I found this little episode both sad and annoying, given the perennial lament from Ambleside businesses who supposedly love the old shopping areas, and those who supposedly want to preserve their low-rise character, yet do much of their spending at the likes of Park Royal, or online,” Leslie wrote. “Why don’t they get together on a Shop Ambleside card — and load yourself with however much credit you want, and send to friends and family as gifts, or use yourself, maybe with special offers?”
Well, merchants, what d’you say? Any fresh thinking? I see no evidence that our businesses make any collective attempt to imprint on citizens that these are their shopping areas.
Word-people praising their editors are naturally suspect. They are assumed to be sucking up to those who have their sad little lives in the powerful palm of their hands. Freed from such ugly suspicions, I can now state emphatically that Martin Millerchip, who retired as editor of this paper Dec. 31, was in the very top tier of my superiors in the 60 years, five months (but who’s counting) of paid journalistic fun and games.
We had our disputes, but Martin handled my abject bitching and whining as the tolerated eccentricities of geniuses (you are urged to laugh hysterically). I can now go to supper with him without guilt.
Put not your trust in princes (Psalm 146:3, if you care to know). Or modern counterparts. By a 5-2 vote West Van council welched on a promise to restore three tennis courts, temporarily converted to a parking lot while the Westerleigh Retirement Residence was built. Temporary, as often happens, hardens into maybe forever.
Owners of abutting Stonethro suites at 2115-2133 Gordon Ave. are livid about their diminished view and property values. Mayor Mike Smith verbally shrugged: “We have to make decisions based on the facts at the time. The facts now have changed.”
Unimpressed, Stonethro strata council secretary Paul Stott wrote me: “The champions of council were Mary-Ann Booth and Nora Gambioli; with ‘$-signs in their minds’ were the mayor and Michael Lewis.” As Jeremy Shepherd reported in the Jan. 17 News, Booth explained her nay vote: “In an election year, this may come across as self-serving.” A most significant remark, since, as Constant Reader will recall, I’ve predicted a Lewis-Booth mayoral battle in November if Smith retires.
If there is such a thing as good death, Tim Jones had it. He died in the mountains where he participated in 1,400 or more rescues and saved an incalculable number of lives. Not for him the ravages of advancing age when he could only watch others doing what he no longer could selflessly do.
If there is such a thing as never once neglecting his family, Tim Jones — routinely called away from his immediate kin to save lost skiers and hikers on our mountains — never neglected his larger family, which is all mankind.
If there is such a thing as a perfect day for a rescue attempt, it was last Saturday, when, under brilliant sun, even the wind hushed in what seemed like nature’s respect, and in an age when film and TV actors are handed scripts as pretend heroes, Tim Jones was the rare, genuine article.
© Trevor Lautens, 2014