Imagine being in the hospital with severe heart disease. The doctor tells you that before even thinking of surgery, he will hold meetings of the general public to decide on whether surgery should be performed and, if so, how it should be performed.
A ridiculous idea? Yes. But this is the sort of idea being touted by The Moncton Times and Transcript on p. A2 in the column "City of Moncton is preparing for the municipality's future."
Now, the complexity of training for a city's future fifty years down the road far surpasses even that of heart surgery. It requires a profound understanding of world economics and where they're going, of where science is taking us, of changes that are going to happen in fifty years (who would have guessed fifty years ago that we would have handy little things called cell phones that could also tap the web and be portable libraries?) Urban planning calls for remendous expertise and, even with that, a lot of good guesses.
But tt seems our City Council "surgeons", instead of wasting time and money on those silly old professional planners, is going to consult with ordinary citizens. As an example of such input, columnist Terry Parker quotes a fellow columnist Bob Bellefleur. (There are few journalistic habits worse that one journalist quoting another journalist.)
Bellefleur suggested improving traffic systems (which would bring even more cars into the city), a new civic centre downtown (more cars and parking space). One suspects that if this were seventy years ago, he might have suggested more hitching rails for the horses on main street.
In fifty years, it is highly unlikely there will be automobiles on the streets. Certainly, they will not be here in as many numbers. Nor is it possible to understand how relying even more on automobiles will improve our "environment, quality of living lifestyle ( whatever that pompous jargon might mean) , culture (what culture?) and sporting events." Damn right. Moncton desperately needs more places with seats to rest the bums of people who like to see somebody else getting exercise. (Why does that remind me of ancient Rome?)
The idea of planning for fifty years into the future on the basis of the opinions of people who have no specialized training who have not the faintest idea of what sort of world this will be in fifty years is even sillier than having the general public tell a doctor how to do heart surgery.
But let's put this column together with yesterday's seemingly inane story about MCHS and city council. Put together, the two stories suggest this....
....there already is a plan. It's been decided on. Partly, it's a plan to sell the new hockey arena as part of a package deal. The protest (if only by one person) over MCHS is being tied in with a new arena, a civic centre, a football franchise and "our quality of living life-style" to sell the people of Moncton and New Brunswick on borrowing very large sums of money at a time of great economic uncertainty. We are very likely to face a much tougher recession - and soon. Before that happens, somebody wants to make a bundle of money out of us - and let us deal with the consequences.
The Moncton Times and Transcript hears. And it obeys.
Be careful, ms. Mealey. Your suggestion to council was a sound one. But it and you are being used to help some very dangerous ideas coming from some very ruthless people.