Appeared in the North Shore News – May 20, 2016
It’s the classic solution looking for a problem.
There is nothing wrong with Ambleside beach that West Vancouver town hall can’t screw up, permanently, irrevocably – starting with the core surrender of delightful Argyle Avenue to the Spirit Trail bicycle lobby and its enablers.
To appease the politically correct bikers and hikers, West Van bureaucrats plot destruction of the Silk Purse, Music Box and Lawson arts buildings – claiming they’re threatened by (rare) high tides, ludicrous in the case of the Lawson – and insanely prohibiting motorized traffic and precious parking on Argyle Avenue.
Don’t fold to the pressures, council. Defend present uses and users: Families bound for the great children’s playground. Gentle strollers. Dog walkers. Fragile oldsters. Dreamers. Boaters preparing for the sweatiest relaxation on earth. Meandering couples looking into each others’ eyes, not keeping to the bureaucrats’ designated side of the “shared” path. And slo-mo bicycle riders too, not the grim-jawed, lycra-and-spandex show-offs speeding on three-grand-and-up machines with 192 gears.
Bottom line: As it now stands, Argyle Avenue unites. The proposed Argyle Avenue divides.
Literally. The Berlin Wall gone, the Bicycle and Birkenstock Wall through the heart of the beach would impede safe, easy crossing north and south by persons bound for the playground, beach, picnic area, public washrooms – at the mercy of those cyclists famous for meticulously respecting pedestrian crosswalks and red lights, hahaha.
Exaggeration? I asked all councillors: How will families with a couple of toddlers and/or strollers plus burdens of bags, picnic hampers, whatever, safely cross? Park artists humping their easels and wares?
And has the future of the Harmony Arts Festival on Argyle been discussed?
Coun. Christine Cassidy replied: “Excellent question and thus far one that has not been addressed in any verbal or written report on this subject. I suspect that we’ll see signage giving specific instructions on how to proceed with regard and respect for the safety of all users. However, I will ask specifically for an answer.”
Read that again. The enablers haven’t even discussed the question. Premise: They haven’t got an answer. They just have a rosy PR “vision.”
The “11 guiding principles” of the Ambleside Waterfront Concept Plan are equally silent about parking – not a scintilla of relief for the major objective of “revitalizing” Marine Drive. On the contrary, ripping out parking spaces on Argyle’s 1300-1500 blocks would hurt Ambleside’s struggling businesses. Duh!
Note well: In an informal chat over soda water, Mayor Michael Smith denied any notion, mine included, that this is a done deal. Just proposals moving through process.
The next big date is June 13, when this stew of fixing a non-existent problem goes to council “for consideration”. Time to rally the “Negative Nellies.”
• • •
The reference above to a drink with Mayor Smith wasn’t facetious. He really was sipping soda water when we talked. Under the news radar, Smith was quite seriously ill for months.
“I don’t want to make a big thing out of my recent troubles,” he summed up in an email. “As you know, a low profile suits me. The brief facts are that I went into hospital on Jan. 14 for a short one-hour procedure and got a serious infection from it.”
Smith was hospitalized three times, “as the infection kept re-occurring,” puzzling the docs (note well: this wasn’t at our own Lions Gate Hospital).
After two months on antibiotics he feels fine “and am 30 pounds lighter and back working out five times per week with a personal trainer.’’ Also ready for a first real drink.
Dr. Lautens diagnoses the illness as a clear case of all too common but rarely admitted iatrogenesis. Look it up. Hint: Re-read previous item.
• • •
Agent 000, new and thus to be treated warily, alleges that a West Van town hall staffer resigned almost a year ago but is still being paid.
He suspects, no proof, two other departed staffers received similar (taxpayer) generosity.
Town hall’s response: “The district follows best practices in human resources, and we do not share personnel information regarding any employee.” Fair. And why the public never, ever knows.
• • •
Earls restaurant chain scrapped its beef-sourcing policy change after my last column’s deadline. And I misread the West Vancouver Chamber of Commerce finalist list for Business Person of the Year: That’s Peter King of Bowen Island Community Transit Ltd. My apologies.
© Trevor Lautens, 2016