Seem it’s about time to document the past year, at least for myself, before it all blends into a fuzzy pink cloud.
A year of provincial and federal governments’ rubber stamping of very probably damaging projects like LNG and dirty coal transport over water, the Site C dam drowning some of the best agricultural land in Northern BC, and continuing to throw all our money, hopes and energy into the bottomless pit of oil sands, and its transportation across land and water that we consider ‘ours’ (and of course exporting this to our southern neighbour). The propaganda we pay for as taxpayers is thick on all these. Meanwhile no mind is paid to alternatives, least of all a reduction in the excesses we feel are part of being human in the richest countries at their apex.
It’s all very logical, after all. Why promote ideas that don’t pay off multinationals and give people with all levels of education and skills the feeling that, yes, they too can earn $200,000+ a year just like those in the lower echelons of the financial sectors, by working in remote camps 14-in, 7-out; fly in-fly out, extract the living daylights while the going is good. And this is the hope; never mind what it is doing to our air, land and water. But as 2014 ended, the price of oil having declined sufficiently to bring into question the ‘full speed ahead’ ethos, those always-already temporary jobs are being threatened, or at least postponed as the high cost of extraction presses down on the whole project.
Oh, and there is a federal election coming up on October; my guess is that this too will reflect how we shouldn’t wait for elections to do something, and expect nothing but contempt.
Locally, the big story this year was (drum roll) the library (of all things). I suppose that it’s a good thing that it appears that we’re all aflutter over books and learning, but it was really about was money and location, with a really positive undertow of ‘what is the function of a library in 2014?’. We are very lucky to have had a lot of really smart, talented, generous and dynamic volunteers who compiled the information on library usage while maintaining a positive outlook during a time when it could have turned nasty, with many counsellors essentially over-ruling years of research, disregarded the thousands of taxpayer dollars spent in investigating and developing plans for one, then three, then more locations (most notably the most preferred Willingdon South location). Of course, we owe a lot to those who actually make our library work: our librarians, the Library board and the Friends of the Library.
Ultimately, a big old compromise to keep an excellently located empty lot, empty, accompanied by an amorphous 11th hour deal with local mall owners to transform an ex-furniture store behind a gas station into a public library. I know many of us (me included) went into this with clenched teeth and pinched nose, because the community needs a functional library more than a beautiful space that would have reinvigorated the actual heart of the city, providing an anchor for locally-owned small businesses in favour of enhancing a private strip mall. It is that urgent. 75% of the population voted YES to a referendum question on permitting the City to borrow up to $3.5 million, and the gods were apparently appeased. I guess that’s the nature of compromise and democracy: an urgent need made clear to the public, and a choice that makes it very difficult for any one party to vehemently oppose its advancement. I am hoping that the lack of real clarity on how the old Brick location will be updated to create a functional and beautiful, well-lit space, will not bite us in the ass.
Oh, and congratulations especially to our new and progressive non-slatey-at-all City Council members who, with Russell Brewer, may encourage the re-elected to start to think about what a post-mill town could look like (the Catalyst Paper mill workforce just shrank by 45 jobs). May the talk lead directly to the walk. I think it will.