Sunday, January 14, 2007
CD in Play: Mastodon, Blood Mountain
To paraphrase a hymn I detest:
Mine eyes have seen the damage
of the coming of a storm
that has trampled out its vintage
where the cedars stood so tall.
I went to Stanley Park this morning with my Dad. We had some other things to do today, but he wanted to see the damage done to the park by the recent wind storm. (see CBC's photo collection and a story for those not in the know) It is one thing to see the damage in the papers and on television, but quite another to see it first-hand, even as cleaned up as it is. Wikipedia's article notes that the storm was an extratropical cyclone and wind speed was up to 115 kph (71.5 mph) devastating 60% of the park with a loss of 3,000 trees, particularly Prospect Point. Especially Prospect Point. I used to spend quite a bit of time at the Point as a kid, since it is my Dad's favourite spot in the park, and know the area reasonably well. It is in rough shape. Massive clearings where there was once dense plots of temperate rain forest. I did some "drive-by shooting" of the area with my Dad's camera and will post some those photos later on. (the above photo is not mine)
The discussions around what to do have been interesting. Most people are behind replanting efforts, (as am I) the Park is too much a part of Vancouver and the Lower Mainland's identity to do nothing. It will cost big bucks to do this and some people have, rightly, pointed out that while people have shown such extreme distress over damage to the park and the loss of 3,000 trees, hardly anyone is distressed about our overtaxed homeless shelters. Vancouver's homeless situation has spiralled out of control and is a serious problem that neither the city nor the Province want to tackle in any constructive way. Is the concern over the state of Stanley Park a sign of our out-of-whack values as a society? Of course, many of Vancouver's homeless have taken to living in Stanley Park, so really...
Homelessness is more than a Vancouver problem, however, and many municipalities have nothing in place whatsoever to deal with the situation. When I was working Burnaby, I was told by a cop that there was nothing in place within the city to try and help that city's homeless aside from a small drug outreach programme. Obviously some cities feel that homelessness is not their problem to deal with - that if they don't provide the services these people will just go away someplace else.
My feelings are that we ought to do something about the Park, it is a jewel for this city and worth preserving. At the same time, Lower Mainlanders have to accept responsibility for those less fortunate. It is one thing to say that they need to pull themselves out of the gutter and up on their own two feet, but quite another to actually be knocked down so often that you get used to it and never think to get up again. Property and rental prices are insane here and need to be dealt with. Vancouver and the Lower Mainland like to tout themselves as the most livable areas in Canada, even in the world, yet as the cost of living goes up the quality of living for most goes down. The mountains, the water and places like Stanley Park begin to lose their charms in a much more bitter way in the face of increasing poverty than the damage a windstorm could ever cause.