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, 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 


Saturday, January 14, 2017

Take heart! It will be warm again in July, “Perceptions,” by Gerry Warner

Take heart! It will be warm again in July
“Perceptions,” by Gerry Warner
Yes, it’s cold out there, damn cold! But, believe it or not, this is not the coldest it’s ever been in Cranbrook. Far from it. And no, this arctic vortex we’ve been living in the past six weeks, doesn’t mean global warming has been reversed and we’re standing on the precipice of a new Ice Age.
But one thing at a time.
Officially, and I emphasize “officially,” the coldest temperature recorded at the airport by Environment Canada is minus 40 C on Dec. 30, 1968. So far this winter the coldest it’s been was minus 29 C on Jan. 4. That’s pretty damn cold, but far from the record. And it should be noted that weather records at the airport only go back to 1968 and it’s quite likely that Cranbrook has been colder than 40 below in the past, especially in the winter of 1949 – 50, generally considered the coldest in the province’s history.
However, one thing is for sure. This has got to be the longest cold snap in recent memory and most of us are just not used to sustained cold anymore. When you step outside and you feel the mucus freezing in your nose it kind of sets you back a bit. And the snow piles around the city are becoming a hazard to low flying birds, if not airplanes. Hats off to City plowing crews, who’ve been doing a yeoman’s job in trying circumstances.
But what about the global warming debate, which is still a “debate” in the minds of some people, if not the world’s scientists and weather experts? Doesn’t the brutal cold snap we’re experiencing now prove that global warming and climate change is a myth hatched by paranoid environmentalists, Greenpeace and the like?
Well, not exactly. 

If pictures don’t lie satellite pictures taken by NASA in the summer of 2013 show a shocking sight, namely a camera buoy at the North Pole “swimming” in open water, which ordinarily would be frozen solid year-round at one of the coldest spots on earth. But these aren’t ordinary times! The camera buoy is actually anchored to the ice, but the icecap itself has been overwhelmed by open water drifting as far north as the North Pole because of unprecedented melting of the Arctic sea ice further south.
The summer of 2016 also saw the unprecedented journey of the cruise ship Crystal Serenity through an almost ice-free Northwest Passage with more than 1,000 high-paying passengers and 600 crew aboard. This is the same Northwest Passage that’s been plugged by ice for centuries and taken the lives of hundreds who dared to try to sail through it only to be stopped by cruel ice floes and trapped in solid ice like the much mythologized and tragic Franklin Expedition in 1845.
So take heart as you head out to your vehicle in the frigid morning air hoping that the block heater is working and old Betsy will still start and take you to work where you can sit in a drafty office all day and day dream about that Caribbean vacation you’re not taking. And keep in mind that the weatherman is forecasting above freezing temperatures next week.
Maybe come the dog days of summer in July when the temperature climbs into the high 30’s you can book a ride on a deluxe Arctic cruise ship sailing the Northwest Passage so you can escape the torrid heat of a Cranbrook summer. By then, those bone-chilling mornings in January will just be a distant memory as you order another frosted margarita.
And don’t think of the rest of us back here snuggling up to our air conditioners or trying to cool off at the lake because we all know it may get hot in Cranbrook in August, but it’s a dry heat.

Gerry Warner is a retired journalist, who has no desire to go to the North Pole, wet or dry.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

A few honest, but brutal thoughts about 2017, by Gerry Warner

A few honest, but brutal thoughts about 2017

“Perceptions,” by Gerry Warner

Now that the year 2016 – what a bummer – is safely behind us, what can we look forward to in 2017? Internationally, I’d say cover your eyes. We know that death, horror and destruction is going to continue outside our borders so let’s concentrate our gaze on Cranbrook, which is still a pretty, good place to live despite all the mayhem happening abroad.

Get ready for major disruption on Second St. South. It’ll probably start around May or June and disrupt city driving all summer. But when it’s over a much improved driving experience will emergence for everyone on the south side not to mention tourists turning off Highway 3 only to encounter the kerklunk, kerklunk of Cranbrook’s residential road system. Does it justify borrowing $10 million to inflate the City’s road budget for a single year? Hard to say, but those opposed had their chance. Let’s get on with the job.

Speaking of jobs, the City is planning major upgrades to Idlewild Park and one being considered for the popular site is development of a swimming beach on the former City reservoir. There are pros and cons on this one. Cranbrook does lack a beach within City limits with Jim Smith, Wasa and Moyie Lakes being some distance away. However, I hope the City thinks hard about this one because Idlewild is easily accessible and a fine rustic environment for people and wildlife and a a crowded and noisy public beach is not exactly compatible with that.

Then there’s the old city Fire Hall, a fine brick edifice sitting unused and forlorn in the heart of the downtown with only a garish “For Sale” sign in front of it for company.  The ornate, two-storey building is one of only nine officially designated Municipal Heritage Properties in the city and received a Commercial Heritage Award in 1980. Yet there it sits mostly unused and empty since it closed in 2011 with rumors swirling about its future.

Will this fine building continue to languish in 2017 or will the City announce its plans? The previous City Council, of which I was a member, set aside $500,000 in its five-year capital plan to develop the heritage structure into a new Art Gallery, performing space and craft work shop facility for the city in conjunction with the Cranbrook Arts Council and spent more than $108,000 to remove the asbestos from the building to help this exciting project become a reality. The new council decided to take a different course, which it was entitled to do, subject to the provisions of the Cranbrook Community Heritage Register. Now it’s two years later and the fate of our heritage fire hall is still uncertain. Isn’t it about time the City announced its plans? Wouldn’t it be nice if Council reconsidered selling the building to the private sector and partnered with a group capable of repurposing it for the use and benefit of all Cranbrook residents instead of selling our silverware to the highest bidder.   

And while we’re on the subject of fate, we have to consider the fate of the City’s prime sport institution, which of course, is the Kootenay Ice, who have been playing better as of late. But regardless of how well or poor the Ice are playing the question hanging over the heads of the team is how much longer will they be playing in Cranbrook? The quick and brutal answer is not for long if crowds continue to average 1,500 or less at Western Financial Place.   

Continuing to be brutal but honest, I have to say I don’t believe the problem is a lack of marketing, as so many Ice fans like to claim, but rather the lack of warm buttocks in those comfortable seats. In other words, we the fans, are the problem – not Ice owner Jeff Chynoweth – who has delivered one Memorial Cup, three Memorial Cup appearances and took his team to the WHL playoffs 17 times.

That’s a damn outstanding record! It’s an incredible achievement for any owner and general manager whose job is to put a winning team on the ice. Therefore, I can only maintain, if we lose the Ice in 2017 it’s our own damn fault!

Gerry Warner is a retired journalist, who places the Kootenay Ice second only to his beloved Trail Smoke Eaters.