Van’s unhappy rules of engagement

Appeared in the North Shore News – February 1, 2013

So, West Vancouverites, are you happy with the iron rule of the Garbage Gestapo and Trash Marxists?

You may have quickly detected I’m not. You got that right.

Garbage in West Van will be collected only every two weeks starting April 22. On collection day it must be placed at the curb in the narrow window between 5 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. Not before 5. Not after 7:30. Or the heavy hand of the bylaw bullies will strike you down.

The worker who comes home after midnight must set his/her alarm to groggily tramp down the driveway, in moist darkness six months a year, bearing gifts to appease the Trash Gods. Or, since few people in the Best Part of the Best Place in the World actually work in any sense recognizable to the toiling masses, he/she struggles home after a hard night of partying or attending opera to do likewise – maybe choosing to put the trash in the BMW and back it down the driveway, rather than hoist the obligatory four (!) separate categories of waste manually.

Imagine the frail older West Vancouverite, perhaps taking medicine that encourages deep sleep, being nudged awake by Rick Cluff’s or Philip Till’s gentle radio voice at such an uncivilized time. Add rain or snow and there’s a threat to life and limb.

And don’t expect mercy from the bylaw bullies. This is the department that didn’t haul back its hyper-zealous officious officer who several summers ago made lightning strikes on about 500 astonished dog-walkers. Some old people wept at the meetings then-Mayor Pam Goldsmith-Jones called to soothe them. The ticket-writer’s boss backed him up unreservedly, and her boss coincidentally retired. She later moved on to lucky Surrey. (The officer’s contract ran out – whereupon he quietly got a less visible job elsewhere in the town hall empire.)

Has much changed? Ken Prescott related in a letter to the editor Jan. 15 that he parked in the library’s two-hour lot for 20 minutes, then returned later to drop off another item, parking 15 minutes. Fined! Yes, $35 for parking twice in the same day in the sacred library lot! That’s an offence! Who knew? I doubt that even super-informed council-watchers Carolanne Reynolds and George Pajari were aware of this grotesque bylaw.

Stalin’s apparatchiks couldn’t have dreamt up a more oppressive regimen of trash rules than those laid out in a glossy brochure by the environmental ideologues and their bureaucratic henchmen at town hall. A taste:

“Limits per home, per collection day: Two 77 L garbage cans or bags. Max weight: 20 kg (45 lb.) per can or bag OR Two 121 L cans containing one 77 L bag each. Max weight: 20 kg (45 lb.) each OR One 121 L can with no more than two 77 L bags. Max weight: 40 kg (90 lb.). . . .

“The use of bungee cords/ straps, rope or string to tie lids is prohibited and will result in your garbage or Green Can not being collected. Place Blue and Yellow Bags next to your Blue Box (not inside). . . . Cut cardboard down to fit inside the Yellow Bag or neatly tie in bundles measuring no larger than 60 cm x 60 cm x 15 cm high (2′ x 2′ x 6″ high.). Tie securely with biodegradable string. No wire or plastic strapping.” I’m taking university courses easier than remembering this stuff.

In the 1960s, Lonnie Donegan famously warbled “My Old Man’s a Dustman” – British-speak for garbageman. Now everybody’s old man is a dustman. Give Dad industrial scales and measuring tape for Christmas.

As for the every-two-weeks collection: Pray for a cold summer – for the bears’ sake too.

. . .

Speaking of George Pajari: Former councillor Shannon Walker asked WV council to waive a community amenity contribution (CAC) of $750,000-plus for a redevelopment of the family’s Walker Building on Bellevue Avenue, its floor area ratio (FAR) planned to expand from 1.44 to 2.16. Town hall staff backed her.

In a footnote-loaded presentation, Pajari alleged “questionable and misleading information” in the application. Coun. Craig Cameron picked up on Pajari’s claim that staff had misled councillors. Council was convinced by Pajari’s detailed objections and agreed that the CAC should apply – an implied sharp rebuke to the bureaucrats, and, I’d say, raising a serious question of confidence.

. . .

A big loss to Park Royal Shopping Centre: One of its liveliest businesses and a bright spot in the south mall, The British Newsagent, left for lower-rent premises at 3195 Edgemont Boulevard in North Vancouver, where it was scheduled to reopen today. It offered British foods, sweets, tea, soccer team mementoes and such, had a brisk sale of lottery tickets, and its huge racks displayed far and away the biggest range of magazines in West Vancouver. It leaves an amenity hole not easily filled.

. . .

One of journalism’s joys is interviewing smart, intriguing people like Jordan Sturdy and Robin Smith, seeking the Liberal nomination (Feb. 15-16) in retiring Joan McIntyre’s West Vancouver-Sea to Sky riding. Profiles planned. Rumoured aspirant: Geoffrey Cowper, author of a major law reform report and tipped as a future attorney-general. Abodes? Pemberton, North Vancouver (“just over Mosquito Creek”, the riding border) and Bowen Island respectively – none, note, in West Van.

Buzz about former TV anchor Pamela Martin and past WV mayor Pamela Goldsmith-Jones has faded.

© Trevor Lautens, 2013