Archive for July, 2011

Rich Man Poor Man
July 13, 2011

There are many disturbing issues surrounding the mulit-year and harshly public debate in Salmon Arm about the Smart Centres Development.

One of which is that the circa year 2000 Council itself is said to have suggested the controversial property to the developer in the first place and voted to take the parcel out of the ALR because it flooded and was therefore no longer valuable as farming land. This action alone confirms the flood risk that so many have tried to deny.

The second is that an elected councillor was said to assist in the deal that parceled the properties for purchase. If it’s a city’s job to oversee the real property development of a community, then any realtor who serves on council is in conflict of interest.  And indeed, in other parts of Canada, realtors cannot serve on local councils for this very reason.

The third is that the developer has whipped up a cult-like us-versus-them fervency by packing meetings, encouraging silence in numbers, offering trinkets and promoting itself as the saviour of the average family. This evangelical intensity scares me. Like a propaganda campaign with no spending limits where the win is a form of financial salvation.

The fourth is that had the community groups who are unpaid and unfunded not engaged in the process, paid for studies and pointed out the irreparable damage to the sensitive ecosystem, the mall may well have already been built. The government regulatory systems have utterly failed us as a community. It’s a bit like saying you can leave your kids alone until they hurt themselves, then you really need to hire a babysitter.

But the worst and most disturbing of all is what I’ll call the rich man poor man argument because it’s not logical, rhetorical or even political. It’s emotional. Those opposed to this development have been called rich, retired, snobby elite whose own intellectual and scientific arrogance makes them unsympathetic to those whose feelings of being denied cheaper goods equates to sentence of poverty. Poverty has nothing to do with having to drive to Kamloops or Kelowna to shop at big box store to save $10 on a pair of boots. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Real poverty lines up at Second Harvest every Wednesday and Friday. Real poverty lives at the Family Resource Centre where teen moms get food and diapers for their wee babes. Real poverty lives in local schools where moms bake extra muffins to feed the kids who don’t get breakfast. And to claim this social tragedy that befalls so many people in our community as a trump card in matters of real property development and big box shopping breaks my heart.

Somewhere along the road, we’ve lost our way. We’ve forgotten that economics is the study of unlimited wants and limited resources and marketing is the study of selling the things that people need to the people who need them. Instead, we’ve become a terribly spoiled consumer culture that measures economic and marketing success by indulging every need and creating needs that don’t exist to fill them for the purpose of economic and marketing success. So viscous a circle, my head spins.

So I’ll do what I always do when my head spins and my heart hurts. I’ll do something nice for someone else to restore some balance. As a community, we are responsible for one another. I hope others will also reach out in their way. Each of us has it within ourself do so.

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.
Henry S. Haskins



a pound of flesh but not a drop of blood
July 10, 2011

I remember reading The Merchant of Venice in Grade 9 English Lit. And I loved the ending. Oh sure, you can have your pound of flesh but not a drop of blood. Judges are so clever sometimes. I wish we had a community judge sometimes. A sober unbiased see-it-all kinda person who could call it as it is.

Sadly, for Salmon Arm, we have no such literary denouement.

So as a tribute to the poetry of a Shakespearian tale, I’ll offer this up on the eve of the SC’s development permit approval.

If I could move a river, I’d protect it from the shore
So I can know for certain it’s not polluted for a store

If I could change a mind, I’d thank my luck stars
I’d rather have a field than a parking full of cars

If I could have a wish, I’d ask for nothing more
than a place where nature is the most important core.

If I could ask a question, I’d put this to you all
Is this conflict really worth a silly shopping mall?

If I could offer advice, I’d keep it plain and simple
you can’t see beauty in a face for an ugly pimple.

I suspect (as most do) that SC will be awarded its pound of flesh tomorrow in Council Chambers. You out-tricked, out-lawyered and out-spent to get it. But a drop of my blood, you’ll never get.

My kingdom for a Shakespearian finale in case there is a wise judge capable of changing this wayward course of ours. Failing that, I offer up a fitting quote from the play.

All that glisters is not gold; / Often have you heard that told. / Many a man his life hath sold / But my outside to behold.

Fare thee well.