Friday, January 26, 2007

NIMBYism and hating your own lifestyle

The tracts of suburbia that sprouted up after World War II, and created new physical, social, and political orientations for a few generations of middle class whites, contributed much in the way of humanity's progress: the strip mall, the basement party, obesity, etc. Among these, the Drive-Thru chain restaurant.

Now, the suburbs that spawned this little piece of lazy-man ingenuity are stepping up and saying no thanks; we don't want drive-Thru's in our neighborhoods anymore. Or, at least, not the popular ones that many of us frequent.

The extreme popularity of Canada's biggest coffee chain has led 18 residents of St. Vital's Meadowood neighbourhood to launch an appeal against a 24-hour Tim Hortons drive-through outlet proposed for the corner of St. Anne's Road and Wales Avenue.

The Meadowood residents claim heavy traffic and lineups at a Tim Hortons drive-through will endanger children walking to nearby Victor Wyatt School, create traffic jams and pollute their neighbourhood with noise, exhaust fumes and headlight glare.

"Every time you pass by a Tim Hortons, there are lineups inside the restaurant and the drive-through is always lined up, sometimes on to a busy main street."

-"St. Vital group has no time for 24-hour Tim's", Winnipeg Free Press, Jan. 25, 2007

What does this say about the physical and functional nature of local commerce in today's suburbs? If the sub-urban, car-oriented neighborhood is such a great place for children, why is the operation of a local coffee shop a danger to them?

A bigger question, is what is it about the suburban life that can make its inhabitants so delusional? I'd wager that many of these 18 St. Vital residents regularly go to drive-Thrus of all sorts, and its unlikely (and probably impossible) that they do their shopping and dining on foot or bike. Because, whether the coffee shop is down the street, at the nearest retail pod, or in someone else's neighborhood, driving to it--by these residents' own logic--still endangers school children, creates traffic, and pollutes the environs with noise, exhaust fumes, and headlight glare.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

I hate reading the news. This was on CBC Manitoba's website today:

"This budget is bigger than it's ever been," said Old Kildonan Coun. Mike O'Shaughnessy, who chairs the city's finance standing committee, on Friday.

O'Shaughnessy said the budget aims to catch up on some long-overdue work.

"We've fallen further and further behind every year since 1972. This is the first year that we're minimally catching up," he said.

Nineteen seventy-two. What happened that year? Ah, I remember: the year City of Winnipeg was swallowed up by its surrounding munincipalities, and exhausted itself fiscally, by turning the nearby gravel-road back waters into low density suburbs (yet with all the services of the city). The year the former City of Winnipeg began its steady population decline (100,000 to date). The year the City began to be controlled by councillors--who would have otherwise been reeves whose biggest issue would be figuring out who pays for the new sump pump at the curling rink--such as Mike O' Shaugnessy of Old Kildonan, who, incidentally, has sat on council for 26 of the 35 years succeeding 1972.

In those twenty years, did O'Shaughnessy do anything to "catch up" on the mess that Unicity was? Do you think this latest spend-a-thon he is chairing will help? Winnipeg--the real City of Winnipeg--emerged from the Great Depression in the black, the Free Press proclaimed in 1939. Today, 35 years into Unicity, rubes like O' Shaugnessy can't even make ends meet at the best of the time, and the new "conservative" (so called) City Hall is set to make thier puppet-masters in the provincial NDP look fiscally responsible by comparison.

Do you really trust improvidents like this with a credit card we're the ones who are going to have to pay it off one day?