Archive for August, 2011

who do we think we are?
August 16, 2011

There’s nothing like a month away from the every day to get a better sense of oneself. Every year, I transport my kids and my business to a small village in Quebec slightly south of Quebec City, arguably one of the most beautiful places around, to reconnect to my roots and my family, immediate and extended, to remember where I came from, who I am and who I want to be.

As with any ritual, there are definite expectations. My dad makes the coffee. My kids make their own toast in between hours and hours of bike riding. Grand Maman prepares dinner. We eat when she rings the bell. Campfires are de rigueur, and my brother is in charge. Unless a storm comes thru. But even they are on schedule. At night. It’s uncanny. You’re lulled to sleep by a gentle wind, awoken about 4 am to pelting rain and by 7:30, once the coffee’s on, you wake up to a wet campsite and a sunny sky.

There is also the required day or so to to reacquaint yourself with what may have faded from short term memory over the last 11 months. In Quebec, the voices are louder. The clothes are fancier. The homes are quainter. The AM radio stations are techno-disco-ier. And the drivers, well, they are, no doubt, insaner. And if those aren’t words, they ought to be around here. Also, the cheese is better. The milk is more expensive and the beer is a steel of a deal. And finally, Montreal is still a crumbling mess, which Quebecers have known for a long time, just seems the evidence has been mounting exponentially theses past few weeks.

But what invariably surprises me is that for each month of August I spend here, I get a better understanding of myself which is slightly harder to put into words, but this is a blog, so I’ll try my best.

For one, when living mostly outdoors, I am more relaxed. The pace of the day seems more natural and things fall in to place much more easily. What needs to get done, gets done. What doesn’t need doing doesn’t really matter.

I read. Something I rarely do at home because I get too wound up in schedules and to do lists. And what a joy it is to get lost in a really good book. One, like your holidays, you wish would never end. But if life were one big holiday, we wouldn’t really appreciate it, now would we?

I listen. Again, something I’m not always good at when I’m home. I love to listen to my Dad talk about anything really. Politics, parking, whatever. I love hearing his voice. I love listening to my Mom talk to her sister. I needn’t say a word. I love listening to my uncles bs each other for hours at a time. And the jokes do get funnier as they years go by. And my brother and I will giggle like we’re kids in school. Ridiculous – but so funny.

I sleep. It’s so quiet here, despite the midnight rains, that I go to sleep knowing, without a doubt, I’m in for a good nights rest. As sure as the crickets call and the cows moo and the sun rises.

I watch. I’ve seen Quebec change so much over my lifetime. Each time we drive through a village, I always wonder what it would have been like in its hey day when every motel was in business and every road side mechanic shop was busy. Quebec, it seems has been spared the devastation of the last recession and there’s a new found prosperity in most villages. Though the churches are still empty and the general stores are fewer and far betweener. Many farms close to the city have been converted to tidy suburbs, but overall, la vie est belle in la belle province, except for the highways in Montreal where “l’exception fait la regle” (the exception proves the rule).

So I vote to bring back to age old tradition of the month away. When the pace slows and the important things, as mundane as they may seem, take importance again.I’d like to think it would help us all, at least once a year, to take the time to figure out who we think we are.

Viens d’asseoir un peu. Ca va te faire du bien.  (translation – come and sit down for a bit, it’ll do you good)


August 9, 2011

Seems there is much melee about the fate of Rosa’s Taco Stand in Blackburn Park in light of the construction of a new concession stand.

Quite soured at the abusurdity of the article in last week’s Observer and Mayor Marty’s comments that people might like to have hot dogs or ice cream instead of Mexican food, I questioned the City’s sudden appetite to decide what we should eat where and from whom.  So I went to the civic pantry, as it were, and asked for a copy of the RFP and the list of those to whom it was sent.

To say the RFP itself lacks flavour is bland but true. I include it here in italics.


This may be an opportunity for you or your firm to enter into a new business or add to your existing business

 Invitation for Quotation

The City of Salmon Arm invites companies/individuals to submit quotations relating to the provision of Blackburn Park Concession Services. The proposed contract period is from January 1, 2012, to December 31, 2022, with an option to extend for a further five (5) year period.

 Sealed quotations, clearly marked “QUOTATION FOR BLACKBURN PARK CONCESSION SERVICES” will be received at the City of Salmon Arm until 2:00 p.m. on Thursday July 21, 2011.

The Contract involves:

• the provision of seasonal concession services, maintenance and the monitoring of activities at Blackburn Park for years 2012 to 2022.

A copy of the Quotation Documents may be obtained from the City of Salmon Arm at the Customer Service Centre, 500 – 2 Avenue NE, Salmon Arm, B.C. V1E 4N2, which outlines the minimum requirements of the City of Salmon Arm. All enquiries should be directed to Dale McTaggart, Director of Engineering and Public Works. 

While price will be a factor in considering the quotation, it is not the sole criterion and we reserve the right to use other factors in making the final decision. The City reserves the right in its absolute discretion to accept any quotation or to reject any or all quotations for any reason whatsoever, or to select more than one quotation if it so desires. The quotations, which qualify to be considered within this request, will be evaluated on the merit of the total package submitted. The lowest cost quotation will not necessarily become the successful submission.

Quotations may be withdrawn by written notice only, provided such notice is received by the City prior to the time set for the opening of quotations.

The closing date and time for receipt of the sealed quotation is 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, July 21, 2011 and must be submitted to Dale McTaggart, Director of Engineering and Public Works at the address noted below. Faxed quotations will not be accepted. Quotations received after the closing date will be returned unopened.

 City of Salmon Arm
500 – 2 Avenue NE
Box 40 Salmon Arm, BC V1E 4N2
Telephone: (250) 803-4016
Fax: (250) 803-4041

My first bite? The RFP doesn’t even include the word food for heaven’s sake. My second bite? It’s for 10 years with an option to renew for five years. Whatever they choose, we might a long lasting taste.

The next document the City sent me was the list of potential businesses to whom the RFP was sent. Again, not much zing to this list.

I fail to understand, how, once again, the City is making decisions about what we need and why we need it without asking for proper community input in the first place.

We’ll see what this experiment brings to the table. But I’m guessing the tacometre’s got a few more miles to rev before we stop for snacks at the park.