Citizens for a Livable Cranbrook Society provides grassroots leadership and an inclusive process, with a voice for all community members, to ensure that our community grows and develops in a way that incorporates an environmental ethic, offers a range of housing and transportation choices, encourages a vibrant and cultural life and supports sustainable, meaningful employment and business opportunities.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Western Financial Place and the Kootenay Ice will sink or swim together, “Perceptions” by Gerry Warner

Western Financial Place and the Kootenay Ice will sink or swim together
“Perceptions” by Gerry Warner
When was the last time you attended an event at Western Financial Place (WFP) sometimes referred to as the “Rec Plex”? Think hard because you have a vested financial interest in this facility, which is losing money at an alarming rate and costing Cranbrook taxpayers about $3.5 million-a-year.
Thanks to a Freedom of Information (FOI) application I recently made and assistance from the City a graphic image emerges of a tremendously underused facility that’s costing taxpayers about the same as the City used to spend on its annual roads budget.
As things stand now, it’s not unfair to call WFP a “white elephant” and a white pachyderm it will remain unless we who live in this fair city and our elected leaders unite in finding a strategy to reduce the money hemorrhaging from this building every day.
Thanks to my FOI application, here’s what I found out.
WFP has a TPO (thermoplastic olefin) roof with a rubber-like membrane to keep the water out. TPO roofs have been on the market for about 20 years and were a new product without a long track record when the City chose a TPO roof for WCP in early 2000. While the roof lived up to its guarantee of 15 years, it has been leaking for a considerable length of time and the City now wants to replace it at a cost of more than $3 million to City taxpayers, Ouch!
So, was a TPO roof a good choice in the first place? Probably not especially if they need to be repaired or replaced every 15 years or so. RoofingCalculator.com, which rates roofs for the industry, says while cost effective and environmentally friendly, TPO roofs have several “important drawbacks,” because the process is new and manufactures are working on improvements to achieve durability at the lowest possible cost. “This means that not all TPO membranes are created equal and some perform a lot better than others,” says RoofingCalculator.com.  In fact, many TPO roofs have “failed” it says.
This leaves our current Council in a jam. WFP cost $23 million to build and as of Dec. 31, 2016, there was still
$15.3 million owing on the facility in the form of two mortgages of seven and nine percent. That’s a big bill for the taxpayers, one of the biggest expenditures in the City’s budget, and it’s all going to a building that loses millions every year. But the bill must be paid. There’s no choice in the matter and neither the City or the taxpayers can just walk away from it
So, what can be done?
City staff is currently exploring options to fix the roof and will report to Council soon. No matter what “fix” is chosen the cost will be expensive and picked up by the taxpayers. The City has also hired an events manager to book more events for WCP and raise revenue for the facility. This is where we the taxpayers come into the equation. We’re the owners of the building so every time we go to a concert, swim in the pool or attend an Ice game we’re pumping money into WFP. The same applies for the businesses in WFP; pity there aren’t more of them. Nevertheless, every time you patronize them you’re supporting the most expensive facility the City owns and you’re one of the owners too.
In short, use it or lose it. It’s as simple as that.
Finally, there’s the make or break situation with the Kootenay Ice, by far WFP’s biggest single tenant. I don’t need to remind anyone how perilously close we came to losing The Ice. But we’re not out of the woods yet. In the last five years, revenues from The Ice dropped from a peak of $119,760 in the 2013/2014 season to $93,030 in the 2016/2017 season as fan attendance plummeted to around 1,700-a-game. This has got to change and change quickly or we’ll lose The Ice and WFP will lose even more money.
Currently the Ice pay an annual occupancy fee of only two per cent of gross receipts per game, a “sweetheart deal” if there ever was one. But, they also pay the City a bonus fee of $20,000 annually when the average paid attendance exceeds 2,600 per game and even more if the attendance is higher. However, you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to realize that both the City and The Ice need to be receiving more revenue in the future if the team is going to stay and WFP become less of a white elephant.
In other words, the only way WFP will stop losing money and the Ice stay in town is for Cranbrook taxpayers to give them the support they deserve.


Gerry Warner is a retired journalist, a WFP patron and an Ice fan.


Sunday, May 21, 2017

There’s only one thing left to happen in the Trump saga now, “Perceptions” by Gerry Warner

There’s only one thing left to happen in the Trump saga now
“Perceptions” by Gerry Warner
Drip, drip, drip. How much longer can this go on? It’s like a Chinese water torture (no offence meant to the world’s Chinese citizens) but Donald Trump can’t go on indefinitely like this, a fresh crisis almost every day.
Something is going to break, and when it does, American politics will never be the same.
I can almost hear you saying thank God for that.
Actually, as a retired journalist, I should hope to see Trump around for a long time yet. There’s never been a copy machine like him. Just turn on your Twitter feed every morning and voila, another outrageous story! Does the man never sleep? Maybe this is a nightmare and we’re all part of it. But don’t kid yourself. This can’t go on forever. There’s a reckoning coming and it could come sooner than you think because the supposed “dealmaker” will be off the continent this week on his first official trip abroad to the Middle East, the most explosive political powder keg in the world. Let’s hope he’s not carrying any matches. Mind you, his tongue usually suffices for that.
Trump’s trip includes Saudi Arabia where oil still talks. Then Jerusalem after blurting out some classified Israeli intelligence to Russian officials in Washington last week. Can’t you see his handlers just cringing when he comes face-to-face with the angry Israeli leaders? What will he say this   time? Israel should give back its conquered territories on the West Bank to the Palestinians? Don’t laugh! He’s meeting with Palestinian leaders too and he’s always up for a deal even though a “deal” in this situation could trigger another Middle East war. Does Trump realize that? You have to wonder after what he said to the Russians in the Oval Office. Or does he just see it as another episode in his reality TV show where, when things went off the rails, he would simply say “you’re fired.” Perish the thought when you’re dealing with the nuclear-armed Israelis or the Palestinians and their terrorist allies. Such situations call for the delicate arts of diplomacy at the highest and most strategic level. Trump delicate? Trump strategic? I leave that to you.
Then at the apex of this ill-timed tour when Trump is supposed to be displaying his international bona fides to the world’s leaders he comes face-to-face with Pope Francis. Can you imagine a more bizarre encounter? On the one hand you have the Vicar of Christ, a learned, compassionate and erudite cleric, who leads the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics and President Donald Trump, who once said he doesn’t pray for forgiveness for his mistakes and referred to the sacrament of the Eucharist as “my little wine” and “my little cracker.” And, of course, you recall what he has said about women.  
Will the world be the same after Trump’s tour? Let’s hope so.
And, of course, you noticed what the Trump administration did just prior to his tour. It sent Canada and Mexico 90 days formal notice that it will be re-opening the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Not that it was a big surprise, but the timing was obviously meant to take the heat off the disastrous week Trump had just endured in Washington. The old trick. When the heat is too hot near the stove, you get out of Dodge. How transparent can it get?
But something else occurred last week. Something very ominous for Trump. Congress and the punditry began to openly utter what had only been quietly whispered until now. But it’s now being buzzed all over the Beltway.  Impeachment! I don’t know if Trump is superstitious but if I were him there’s one place in Washington I’d avoid in the future.
The Watergate Hotel. 


Gerry Warner is a retired journalist who remembers Watergate well and saw the movie.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Political change is in the air in BC but what will it be?


Political change is in the air in BC but what will it be?

“Perceptions” by Gerry Warner

A political junkie’s paradise! That’s what BC has become now and this melodrama is going to continue for weeks and maybe more. But that’s going to depend on the players and you can bet all three will be in locked rooms this weekend with the curtains pulled as they meet with their anxious advisors pondering their next move.

And small wonder because the next few weeks are going to be critical in BC political history because they will undoubtedly shape our political future and could result in a sea change in the BC political narrative. The last time we had a minority government was 1952 when Social Credit came to the fore. And less than a year after they were elected, the maverick Socreds under WAC Bennett called a snap election and won a majority which led to more than 30 years of Socred rule. And when you drill down deeper, there are some obvious parallels between the situation then and now.

Back in 1952, BC, like the rest of the world, had finally shaken off the devastating effects of World War II and was ready for change in a big way. A coalition of Conservatives and Liberals had been in power for almost a decade, but was becoming unglued because of infighting and corruption. Infrastructure was quite primitive back then with few good provincial roads and few big industries, a situation ripe to be exploited by a business man like Bennett with dollar signs in his eyes and “Flying Phil” Gaglardi, who had never met a bulldozer he didn’t like. And the rest, like the old cliché says, was history as the province erupted into more than 50 years of road building, dam building, pulp mill building, pipelines– you name it. But that was then and this is now so what’s the connection?

Let me explain.

As a famous prime minister once said with arched eyebrows: “because it’s 2015,” Well, it’s 2017 now, and as Justin Trudeau was trying to get across, TIMES HAVE CHANGED! In other words, the province’s primary needs now are no longer roads, saw mills and mega-developments. They’re still needed, of course, but they’re not our primary needs anymore. Our infrastructure is largely built, but what hasn’t been built yet is the capacity to deal with what our infrastructure has wrought.

And what is that, you rightfully ask? Let me tell you because it’s not rocket science.

Beautiful BC has the highest children’s poverty rate in Canada. We also have some of the most expensive housing in all the world and even professional families find it next to impossible to own a detached house in the Lower Mainland. Since fentanyl became available, many – far too many – of our residents have been dying on our streets like flies from drug overdoses. Even though we export more lumber to the US than any other province our landscape has been disfigured by clear cut logging from Nanaimo to Cranbrook. Maybe it’s time we set a stumpage formula that truly reflected the value of our precious forests as has been argued for years by the US where timber pricing is set by the free market. And need I say that BC is being adversely affected by climate change like everywhere else  

I could go on, but I think you get my drift.

So, what am I really saying? BC is now a mature post-industrial society where most jobs are in the service sector and not resource exploitation. And once again, as in 1952, BC is standing on the cusp of cataclysmic changes happening all over the world that cry out for a different kind of politics. Which of the two mainline parties is most open to  practising politics differently? I’d argue neither. One is for the corporations and the other the unions, which is really the same thing.

Regardless of which old-line party forms a government, that government will rely heavily on the Green Party to survive. If Green Leader Andrew Weaver is smart he’ll resist the temptation to join the governing party and instead keep his caucus independent and avoid being sullied by the old fashioned and old thinking mainline parties. And that will make Weaver virtually a shadow premier with immense power to shape legislation to his party’s liking.

And maybe some day Premier of BC.

 

Gerry Warner is a retired journalist who has covered BC politics for almost 40 years and has never seen such an intriguing election result.

 

 

   

Friday, May 5, 2017

The issue that the BC election is really about, “Perceptions,” by Gerry Warner

The issue that the BC election is really about
“Perceptions,” by Gerry Warner
You know what this election is about? No, it’s not about “free enterprise vs Godless socialism” as was so often said back in the 1960s during the Premier William “Wacky” Bennett era.
Nor is it about the black cloud that supposedly fell over BC in the 1990s, that caused the economy to collapse and people flee to Alberta to avoid catastrophe as a more recent Bennett is so fond of saying.
What it’s really about is the BC environment and how the political parties of today would use that environment to create a better life for the people of the province –  regardless of our politics – or abuse the land for short term gain at the expense of future generations. So, no, I’m not going to engage in doomsday scenarios about what may happen if party A or party B gets elected. But I am going to provide you with an example of a political decision that will sully the land we all know and love and would make BC a lesser place if it’s allowed to go ahead.
The proposed $8 billion Site C dam is far from the Kootenays but like the dams of the Kootenays, will flood a huge swath of prime agricultural land in short supply in the North and provide a whack of electric power most of which is likely to be exported to the US to be used by Donald Trump and his administration.
Doesn’t that make you feel warm and good all over? If it does, you should do a little more thinking.
The 1,100 megawatts of power to be produced by Site C would flood more than 6,000 acres of prime farming land and would be the biggest exclusion of agricultural land from the Agricultural Land Reserve in BC history! Yes, it would also provide power for 450,000 homes, but there’s barely 50,000 people living in isolated northeastern BC now and Site C power is not needed. So, where’s it going to go? It will go where the market dictates and that will be the US and sold at a loss, according to many energy experts. And who will pay for the loss? You know the answer.
So where do the major parties stand on Site C? With the Liberals, it’s full speed ahead and indeed they’ve already started to build after excluding it from review by the BC Utilities Commission, an underhanded move that is being fought in the courts by First Nations people and area farmers and supported by a group of more than 200 leading Canadian scientists who wrote a letter to Premier Clark condemning the project.  
And where do the other parties stand on Site C?
The NDP would halt the project, at least temporarily, and refer it to the BCUC where it was supposed to be reviewed in the first place. Only the Green Party favors outright cancellation of this  unnecessary and expensive project, calling it “environmentally, economically and socially reckless.” Not to mention illegal under the former rules for dam approval in BC.
So, who cares, you may be tempted to say. Well, I for one care because I don’t trust a government that breaks the rules for a project they want to push through. If they do it for Site C where will they do it next? For LNG development whether it’s needed or not? For pipeline development? Or to close schools as they’ve done all over the province or tried to do? To close hospitals as they did in Kimberley? Where does it end? This is a matter of trust as much as it’s a matter of politics and on the trust scale I find the BC Liberal actions troubling.
However, after almost 40 years of reporting on BC politics, I don’t particularly trust any party. They’ve all broken their promises and bent the rules when it suited them. So, this time out I’m really agonizing, but I do think our treatment of the environment is the key issue that underlies all the other issues. And thinking that way leads to only one conclusion.
It’s time for a change.



Gerry Warner is a retired reporter who urges everyone to vote for the party of their choice on May 9.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

It may be time to start looking for higher ground, by Gerry Warner


It may be time to start looking for higher ground   
“Perceptions” by Gerry Warner
They say history never repeats itself, and after the long winter and cold spring we’ve had this year, we better hope it’s true because otherwise we could be facing an ominous possibility.
I’m talking about the Great Flood of 1894, now an almost forgotten chapter of BC history, but a calamity nevertheless that ravaged the entire Pacific Northwest more than a century ago and one that we could be on the brink of again in the next few weeks.
Even though this calamitous event is no longer in living memory you can read about it in the dusty annals of BC history and I’ve done just that and I’d like to share the results with you.
The document is called “Flooding and Landslide Events Southern British Columbia 1808 – 2006” by D. Septer and is an official BC Ministry of Environment document. On page 21, it says the following: “During the winter of 1893-94 record snowfalls were recorded in many of BC’s Interior mountains. The spring of 1894 was cold and wet. (Sound familiar?) Of the first 15 days in May, 10 were wet. In the remaining fortnight, there were 11 fine warm days . . .” And after a few rainy days, these were followed by even hotter days that extended into early June. And the result? “The greatest flood known to the early white man,” but not unknown to the aboriginal people of BC who lived in the province for hundreds of generations before. I now paraphrase the document.
“Almost all bridges were swept away near Chilliwack . . . Col. James Baker (that’s our Col. Baker, who was Provincial Secretary at the time) reported on the evening of June 4 he was able to pull in a boat up to the Queen’s Hotel (in Chilliwack)  . . . a series of washouts on the CPR line west of the Rocky Mountains severed train connections with eastern Canada for 41 days . . . in the Fort Steele District, four bridges were carried away . . . on account of the high water, about 150 Native Indians at the Saint Eugene Mission were unable to mine.”
And there’s more: “Kootenay Lake rose to unprecedented heights . . . the Kootenay River flooded all the bottomlands turning the country in (sic) one vast lake. A steamer could sail from the head of Kootenay Lake to 10 mi (16 km) south of the (American) boundary, a distance of 60 mi.”
The flood of 1894 also caused havoc around the province and the Lower Mainland. “Floods on the Columbia River were interrupting rail traffic at Golden . . . at Matsqui the water was up to the top of the telegraph poles . . . On May 31 in Vancouver, the Fraser River, with large amounts of debris, backed up into Burrard Inlet . . . mail from Vancouver and Victoria for eastern points were (sic) forwarded via San Francisco . . . all bridges on the Kettle river were lost” . . . And there was loss of life: “Workmen found a small raft floating on the Fraser River at Ruby Creek carrying the dead bodies of an entire family of five . . .”
Without trying to be unduly alarmist, what this shows is that floods are a fact of life in BC and no era is immune. Big rivers like the Fraser, Kootenay and Columbia have moderate floods every 20 to 30 years, major floods like the flood of 1948 every 50 years and catastrophic floods about once every 200 years. Back in 1894, BC was barely a province and the flood damage, though severe, would pale in comparison to the catastrophe it would cause today.
Consequently, the next six weeks are going to be critical. Look at the mountains. Above six thousand feet (1,828 meters) the snowpack has barely started to move. There was fresh snow at that level today (April 28) and the highway passes are still getting snow. The BC River Forecast Centre will issue its April snowpack report early in May and that report will be critical. If it shows the snowpack level high or extreme, we’re facing the possibility of a massive province-wide flood that can only be prevented by alternating periods of warn and cool weather that will let the snowpack melt gradually.
But if we get a prolonged heat wave in the next six weeks call me Noah and I will be looking for high ground.


Gerry Warner is a retired journalist and sometimes historian with a special interest in rivers and streams.



   

Friday, April 21, 2017

Provincial election all-candidates forum brings surprises, by Gerry Warner

Provincial election all-candidates forum brings surprises
“Perceptions” by Gerry Warner
After Tuesday’s all-candidates forum at the Key City Theatre we know at least one thing about the four candidates in the race – they all favour the legalization of marijuana and don’t seem to have any qualms about its commercialization either.
However, the candidates did differ on other issues in a surprisingly upbeat forum attended by almost 200 local residents.
MSP health care premiums was one of the issues that provoked some interesting debate, which wasn’t surprising considering that BC is the only province left in Canada still charging the notorious tax which enriches provincial coffers by more than $2 billion every year.
Libertarian candidate Keith Komar jumped into this one with both feet, exclaiming “Ha, we’re the party of cutting taxes. That’s our thing,” which was easy for him to say considering his party’s unlikely chances of winning any seats in the upcoming election May 9.
Liberal candidate Tom Shypitka, who has to be considered the frontrunner in the Kootenay East race, was a little more circumspect on this issue which has a direct financial effect on every person in the constituency. Shypitka said the Liberals will end the premiums eventually “if the economy runs right.” Nothing like qualifying your promises.
NDP candidate Randal Macnair and Yvonne Prest of the Greens were more forthright on this money-laden issue saying flat out they would get rid of the hated tax that no other Canadians pay. Both said they considered MSP premiums “regressive” but admitted other tax increases would have to be considered to offset lost medical care premiums.
And so it went for two hours with all the candidates empathizing how the ideologies of their particular parties would shape their stands on the issues of the day. Shypitka spoke about the strong BC economy and how the Christy Clark government recently brought down its fifth consecutive balanced budget. Prest responded that was all fine and good but added “a healthy economy yes, but at the cost of our environment, no.”
BC Liberal fund-raising practices, which are now being investigated by the RCMP, also came up for discussion. Macnair said BC was getting a bad reputation internationally from the millions in corporate donations it was getting from companies inside and outside the province. “There’s no place for corporate or union funding in politics,” Macnair said, adding the New York Times recently called BC “the Wild West” of campaign donations.
Shypitka responded the NDP weren’t exactly blameless in this regard and recently received a $672,000 donation from the Steelworkers Union. Meanwhile the Liberals have started to list all their donations in “real time” on their party website and are the only BC party doing this, he said.
At one point the candidates were asked to say something “positive” about one of their opponents. Komar said the Liberals “tried hard” in bringing down balanced
budgets. Shypitka said he loved the Green Party “because they keep us in check.”  Prest said there are good values in every party “and that’s how things get done.” Macnair commented “we’re truly all in this together and that’s what makes politics work.”
At this point, the forum was almost starting to look like a love-in, a rare event in BC politics which is often called a “blood sport.” However, this quickly changed at the end when the candidates gave their final summaries. All of them were moderate in their remarks except for Shipitka, who launched into a Bill Bennett style rant claiming that when the NDP were in power in the 1990s BC became “a have-not province” and the economy was left in a mess. “We can’t afford to go back to that economy,” he said.
But Libertarian candidate Komar got in the final word saying Premier Clark may have brought in balanced budgets, but the provincial debt has soared to $65.3 billion under her leadership.  “That kind of math doesn’t work for me,” he said.


Gerry Warner is a retired journalist who has covered more BC elections over the years than he would like to remember.

    

Monday, March 27, 2017

Trump will go and the only question is how, by Gerry Warner

Trump will go and the only question is how
Perceptions,” by Gerry Warner
It may be too early to call President Donald Trump toast, but surely the bread has been placed in the toaster!
Trump is now a heartbeat away from being directly investigated by the FBI over collusion between his election team and the Russian SVR, the Foreign Intelligence Service (read spy agency) that was preceded by the infamous Soviet KGB.
It doesn’t get much more serious than that.
Talk about Watergate revisited. You think that’s an exaggeration? Well consider what New York Times columnist David Leonhardt said in the most influential newspaper in America Tuesday: “Our president is a liar, and we need to find out how serious his latest lies are.” That’s about as direct as it gets and carries a thousand times more force than any Facebook posting or Twitter tweet.
In fact, in normal circumstances, such an incendiary statement would be an outright libel and career ender for any journalist especially one writing for the most prestigious newspaper in the United States. But rest assured, Leonhardt isn’t going to be sued by Trump or any other fatuous blowhard. Not even when Leonhardt went on to say, “the current president of the United States lies. He lies in ways that no American politician ever has before” adding Trump was the one that started the malicious “birther” controversy by claiming former President Barck Obama was born outside the US as well as a host of other lies including originally denying his remarks over the groping of women.
And what was Trump’s response to the latest firebombs launched at him by the Times? He does as he always does. He went back to campaign mode, holding a rally before 18,000 adoring fans in Louisville, Kentucky where he talked about repealing Obama Care, tax cuts, the “wall” – anything but FBI Director James Comey’s shockwave announcement the same day that the federal force had launched a formal investigation into allegations that Trump’s election team had colluded with Russian spies to discredit Hillary Clinton in order to ease the way for his stunning upset electoral victory.
In the face of this momentous allegation by the most powerful police force in the land, Trump was conspicuously silent and did the only thing he knows how to do, reverting to campaign mode in front of thousands of sycophantic supporters.  And yes, the world has seen this kind of cheap rhetoric before in the 1930s. The location was Nuremberg, Germany. And we all know what that led to.
But people aren’t being conned that easily this time around. In the U.K, bookies are taking bets on Trump’s impeachment and the odds have pulled close to even. But most political pundits think impeachment is unlikely until at least the mid-term elections in 2018 which could be a disaster for the Republicans. In the early days of Watergate, few believed Nixon would be impeached either. But as the scandal deepened, even Nixon himself began to believe impeachment was a possibility and chose to resign rather than face the humiliation of being impeached by Congress. And when you consider that former National Security Director Michael Flynn has already been forced to resign for lying about meeting with Russian intelligence agents and calls are ringing for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resign for doing essentially the same thing, Trump’s impeachment becomes more than a fantasy.
Even your humble correspondent believes the chances of a Trump impeachment are far greater than Toronto winning the Stanley Cup. My reasons are simple. If, as many predict, the Republicans fare badly in the mid-term elections, it will finally dawn on the Neanderthals in the Republican hierarchy that sticking with Trump will be like sticking with the captain of the Titanic and pull the entire party into the briny deep. And when that realization hits home dear readers, the Republican backroom will force Trump to resign in another dark chapter in American political history. Or Trump will pull a Nixon and resign himself.
Would I lie to you? Not a chance.


Gerry Warner is a retired journalist and former City Councillor, who was “resigned” from office by the voters, but not impeached.



Saturday, March 4, 2017

Cranbrook’s latest elephant story is white, by Gerry Warner

Cranbrook’s latest elephant story is white
By Gerry Warner
What is it about Cranbrook and elephants?
First there was “Charlie Ed,” a circus elephant that escaped while performing with a carnival in town in 1926 and was captured in the bush six weeks later alive and well and renamed “Cranbrook Ed” by jubilant town folk who were joyous that the roaming pachyderm survived his ordeal. Unfortunately, Cranbrook Ed came to a tragic end eight years later when he was executed by a firing squad after goring his trainer.
Surely there’s a metaphor here for another Cranbrook elephant, one distinctly white in color otherwise known as Western Financial Place.
Let’s face it folks. That’s what we have at the corner of 17th Ave. and 2nd St. N, a colossal white elephant with a leaking roof that has to be replaced to the tune of more than $3 million in taxpayers’ money, equal to the City’s road budget in a normal budget year, and the prospect that 15 years hence the taxpayers will be digging into their pockets to do it again because of the roof’s questionable design.
No kidding! In fact, I’ve been talking to City officials and I’ve filed a Freedom of Information application to get to the bottom of this horrendously expensive mess, but in the meantime some things are glaringly obvious.
Like it or not, we’ve been had, but I hasten to say, not by the current council. They’re just the poor shmucks that are going to have to bail us out of this mess. No, we were had by a cabal of lawyers, businessmen and politicians almost 20 years ago that somehow in their lust to land a Canadian Hockey League team convinced a gullible public to believe in their cockamamie scheme to bring a CHL team to Cranbrook.  We’re a great hockey town in our own right, but maybe not quite big enough to support a CHL team. Then they housed the team in a building designed by a “three P” public/private partnership, which included an outfit out of Cincinnati that didn’t know or care a hell of a lot about hockey, nor it appears building design, if you consider the leaky roof and the loading bay that’s too small for the big rigs that service the few major concert acts that we’ve been able to bring to our fair burg.
The referendum vote was close, but we fell for it hook, line and sinker and now it appears we’re going to lose our no longer so loved hockey team attracting paltry crowds of 1,700 or less in a building that seats over 4,200. As for the building itself we’re going to have to decide whether it’s really worth spending another $3.5 million on at the expense of the taxpayers’ already tightened belts and the City services that may have to be cut for our over-sized and costly white elephant.
And you know what’s really sad about this already sad affair is where is that group of lawyers, businessman and politicians that brought us this debacle? Where is the “Save the Ice” committee raising money and selling T-shirts to save our once beloved team? Well, I’ll tell you where they are. They’re nowhere! Not a peep out of them while the fate of The Ice and the fate of our White Elephant, I mean Western Canada Place, twists in the wind. And in their place, what do we see? Former Ice players writing mature and articulate letters to the newspaper pleading for the team to remain in Cranbrook. That’s the saddest part of all.
I don’t envy the task facing the current council to somehow salvage something out of this stinking manure pile we’re now in. Will a White Knight come forward at the last minute and save Cranbrook’s most famous team? Would community ownership be the answer? Could the former Rec Plex be sold to a private owner if the price was right?
None of these are easy possibilities, but let’s face it Cranbrook, we’re all responsible one degree or another for this unholy mess and we’re all in it together.


Gerry Warner is a retired City councillor and a former reporter for the Townsman.


  

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Message for Canada – Beware the Ides of March and a Trump Presidency, by Gerry Warner

Message for Canada – Beware the Ides of March and a Trump Presidency
“Perceptions” by Gerry Warner

Surprise, surprise. I didn’t get an invitation to President Trump’s inauguration. But in the unlikely event I had, would I have attended? Not likely and I suspect most other Canadians wouldn’t either except for Kevin O’Leary, the reality TV star – if “star” is the right word – of the Dragon’s Den and Shark Tank and would-be leader of the Conservative Party.
That’s right. After the devastating defeat of the Iceman himself, Stephen Harper, Kevin O’Leary is now considered one of the frontrunners in the Conservative leadership race. Can you imagine a North America led by Donald Trump and Kevin O’Leary, both of whom learned their political chops in the la la land of reality TV?
Perish the thought! But in a digital world ruled by Facebook and Twitter this is not as bizarre as it sounds.  In a world where the American president is one of the biggest fans of Vladimir Putin, anything is possible.
But let’s get back to the Great White North, which like it or not, shares the world’s longest undefended border with a country led by a loquacious loudmouth determined “to make America great again.” What will this mean for the 35 million of us shivering in the snowy attic of North America?  Nothing good, I’m sure.
For starters, the Home of the Brave and Land of the Free has caught another bout of protectionist fever and Trump with his world-wide business empire is the Ultimate Protectionist.  The implications of this for Canada are starkly obvious. Good-bye North America Free Trade agreement. Good-bye the newly signed Trans-Pacific Partnership and good-bye making any agreement that will benefit Canada in its dealings with the Colossus of Washington. How can a country whose industry is already largely owned by Wall Street stand up to the American juggernaut? The only reason we’ve done as well as we have is that, like it or not, Americans are hardly aware of us and when they do think of us it’s in terms of the Gentle Giant of the North that always does what it’s told by Uncle Sam and wouldn’t harm its biggest trading partner.
Hey, don’t knock it. It’s thanks to this indifferent attitude towards Canada that we’ve done as well as we have in dealing with the American Empire. They haven’t invaded us since the War of 1812.  Despite their bellicose policy of Manifest Destiny more than a century ago, all they did was gobble up large parts of Mexico, the Caribbean, Hawaii, the Philippines and the Alaskan pan handle, when the British sold us out, and left us blissfully alone to cut down trees, till the land and play hockey. In fact, we did remarkably well in some of our past dealings with the “Military Industrial Complex” (Eisenhower’s term) such as NAFTA, the Columbia River Treaty and the Softwood Lumber Agreement. With more than 10 times our population and the world’s most powerful military, they could have dictated those agreements to us, but instead they negotiated and agreements were signed that allowed both countries to prosper.
Do you think Mr. “Make America Great” again is going to treat us so kindly? If you do, you’re dreaming in 3-D because Trump has already rattled his saber on NAFTA and his administration has engaged in similar saber rattling over re-negotiating the Columbia River Treaty and the Softwood Lumber Agreement, both of which affect us directly in the Kootenays.
However, maybe there’s hope. The last time Trump was in Canada he was caught in a brief CBC video in September boarding a plane and said he “loved Canada” and wouldn’t build a wall on the Canadian-US border. Maybe the great 18th-century poet Alexander Pope said it best: “Hope springs eternal in the human breast.”   
Is there any “hope” for Canada in Trump’s breast? We’re soon going to find out.
                                                                                   
Gerry Warner is a retired journalist, who’s hoping that Trump will act completely out of character as president.


Friday, January 20, 2017

Understanding Christy Clark, Letter to the Editor


Understanding Christy Clark

Gordon Campbell’s Liberals came to power in 2001 with a promise of fair treatment of public sector unions.  With Christy Clark as his Minister of Education, in January 2002 the government stripped provisions from public sector unions.

In 2004 the BC Supreme Court found: “By passing this legislation without consulting with the BC Teachers Federation, the government did not preserve the essential underpinning of collective bargaining, namely good faith negotiation and consultation.”

The judge gave the government a year to rectify.  The Clark government imposed another contract, which the BC Supreme Court ruled on in 2014:  “The Liberals had no more bargained in good faith with the BCTF than in the first case.”

The Christy Clark government decided to appeal to the BC Court of Appeals, which overturned the two lower court decisions.  The case went to the Supreme Court of Canada in 2016, where it took 20 minutes for the court to restore the finding of bargaining in bad faith.

Christy Clark says on the Supreme Court ruling:

1.    “The government anticipated the ruling.” (Nov. 11 Vancouver Sun)

2.    “If it costs more money, that’s a good thing in lots of ways because it’s a good investment to put money into classrooms and our kids.” (Nov. 11 Vancouver Sun)

3.    Christy Clark says teachers’ win is opportunity to invest in kids. (Nov. 13 CBC)

4.    “Kids are only going to do better when we put more resources in.” (Nov. 13 CBC)


Those who believe in collective bargaining and democracy
can thank the teachers’ union.  Why did it take four courts
over 15 years for Clark to do what’s right?


We have had terrible government, but they are blessed with
a dysfunctional opposition who, by structure and operations,
are poised to steel defeat from the jaws of victory.  The NDP
leader says education will be the number one issue in the
May election.  Horgan will first face the self-inflicted hurdles
of gender equity and grizzly bears.

The continuing problems of union money and parachute
campaign managers appear insoluble.  Locals win elections
when Soviet Central Planning gets out of the way.  How long
does the party elite think they can continue running losing
campaigns before an alternative overtakes them?


William G. Hills
Cranbrook, BC 

250-489-1108