Thursday, November 22, 2007

What's with Vision Councillors Push to Americanize Vancouver

Oldtown News
Vancouver, BC


OK I know I'm asking for it here but this latest attempt by another Vision Councillor to Americanize Vancouver, has me really irked.

First I must go back in time.

The eastern part of Vancouver, when I was growing up was always called the East End. Those of us who resided in the East End were proud of our East End roots. It was a cultural thing. The East End represented a cultural identity which was based in strength and working class roots. We even had a paper in Vancouver called the East Ender who's twin was the Westender.

Then an American arrives and suddenly there is a push in the 70's to re-name the East End, the Eastside. I guess it started with the Downtown Eastside. The Eastside name was pushed for its similarity, I suspect to the lower eastside in New York.

I always believed our East End roots more closely resembled the East End of London and not some American City.

Now another Vision Councillor, Tim Stevenson, is pushing to have plastic bags re-moved from our grocery stores. One assumes he wants plastic bags eliminated from all stores.

Councillor Stevenson claims because San Francisco has done it, so should Vancouver.

You might think Mr. Stevenson has better ideas to occupy his time. Like perhaps cleaning up the Granville Shitface Zone, he assisted in creating.

A number of flaws though are involved with the Stevenson baggy plan.

For many citizens, those pesky grocery bags are re-used as garbage bags. Many lower-income citizens for instance do not have yards to compost nor can they afford to purchase garbage bags. Being able to re-use these smaller grocery bags helps to reduce their garbage output. Not having to purchase garbage bags allows a needier citizen to buy fresh veggies instead of big green garbage bags.

Even senior citizens, many who do not drive and may have mobility issues with their fingers glean benefit from those grocery bags. The bags have handles which can be draped over the wrist which makes handling them easier than say a paper bag.

Perhaps the Vision Councillor merely want to address environmental concerns but who doesn't. I think there are ways to reduce our footprints without stepping on the pedal while intoxicated don't you think Councillor Stevenson?

Leaving the drinking aside, many citizens have chosen not to drive automobiles. Many of us are careful about our purchases. We shop locally and think locally. We purchase from the neighborhood green grocer. We choose not to big box it.

I believe citizens in the East End have always had a higher predisposition to be more ecologically friendly than our neighbors to the west. Even more so than West Vancouver where you grew up Councillor Stevenson.

As far back as I can remember, my father had this wonderful vegetable garden when we lived on Franklin Street in the East End. Our neighbors, many who were Italian, had prize gardens as well. Growing organic vegetables was a normal practise. Neighbors shared their crops with other neighbors. It was an East End thing to do.

I hate to turn this into an east vs west thing in our city but I would guess that East End homes have to a larger degree than Westside homes, crop producing gardens. No offence to Westsiders but this has always been part of the East End cultural identity. It remains in practise today.

So Councillor Stevenson, instead of implementing your garbage bag plan, there are other ways to ensure we become more environmentally friendly. By the way, I'm not sure adding a casino to Hastings Park which you voted for was at all ecologically friendly.

Banning bags is not the same as banning the bomb Mr. Stevenson.

Perhaps other reasoned, better thought out plans might be in order.

The City could be a real leader and demonstrate its commitment to reducing waste. Instead of hot air coming out of City Hall, perhaps hot ideas would be far better for the environment. Perhaps Councillor Stevenson, you could even entice your colleague, Councillor Raymond Louie to stop driving his SUV.

The City could be a real leader and offer property tax reductions to homeowners who produce local and healthy crops. This, in my opinion would create a much healthier, ecologically friendly city.

Jamie Lee Hamilton