Thursday, February 9, 2012

Feb. 9: ..another good day for Norbert....another bad one for.....

Norbert Cunningham's commentary of yesterday was both insightful and courageous. And the kid does it again. Yesterday, he spoke of the follies of the Israeli government. Today, starting from the recent convictions of members of  a Moslem family for "honour" killings, he defends Moslems against the charge that their religioun encourages such killing.

That takes courage. In North America, you cannot criticize the government of Israel without running the risk of being accused of anti-semitism. But you can scream hatred of Moslems from the rooftops, and be praised for it. Our own prime minister did screaming of that sort just recently - and I don't know of a single newspaper that criticized him for it.

Incidentally, many Moslems, especially in the Middle East, ARE semites. Check the dictionary. That makes Harper an anti-semite.

Norbert Cunningham's column for today is solid, common sense on a topic that is more often treated with hysterical rants. The ranters and hate-mongers include, alas, our prime minister.

Well, we need an excuse for all those Moslems we have killed and robbed - and all those we plan to kill and rob.

Meanwhile, the story of Moncton High School gets murkier. As Brent Mazerolle explains it, the deal with developers to build a new high school in a new housing development is linked to a deal for those same developers to renovate the old Moncton High, perhaps as residences for rich seniors who would then revive downtown, maybe. But it can't be made official yet because that would have deprived other developers of a chance to offer bids - and we all know how strict New Brunswick is that all bidding must be open and above board. Or something.

And a residence for rich seniors would be could for downtown because - well - it would be good for downtown. This sort of vague babble has confused the whole issue.

1. Main streets are a product of villages and small towns when everybody was within walking distance of it.
2. It became the sort of super shopping, entertainment area we think of as downtown a little over a century ago with the development of the tramway and other forms of mass transportation.
3. It maintained that status into the early 1950s because most people still depended on mass transportation until that time. Most shopping was done in 'mini-main' streets in the various city districts.
(Montreal's downtown area was busy longer than most because it offered booze to American visitors in the prohibition years with all its jazz, prostitution, gambling, gangsterism and corruption of city government  and the police department. If Moncton City Council was so hot on developing downtown, why didn't it put the casino there?)
4. The automobile killed downtowns across North America. It made the shopping mall both more accessible and convenient. The automobile is fatal to any downtown. That's why downtowns faded from the 1950s on.
Nor can hockey stadiums save a downtown. When the Montreal Canadiens moved from The Forum to their new quarters, it made no visible change to either neighbourhood. The character of a neighbour hood is not shaped by the presence of stadia. It is shaped the presence of cars. And, so long as it depends on cars, no downtown will have a character. Every city in the western world has figured that. Every city but Moncton.
Downtowns can survive with the subway. They can survive with convenient surface transportation - particularly if the system provides comfortable shelter - but that can work only if the whole system offers that sort of comfort and convenience.

5. Any solution to all this depends on a City Council that has a long term plan, and one intelligently based on a sense of where we are going to place people, in what sort of housing, and using what form of transportation. The plan has to show a sense of what conditions will be fifty years from now.
I see no evidence Moncton has any such plan; and no sense that that Moncton even thought of the future in its rush to rebuild MHS somewhere else.

6. There was no plan from the start. A developer came up with a housing scheme designed around the assumption that the autmobile will remain the means of transportaion for generations to come.So it's low density housing, and well removed from downtown.

So forget developing dowtown. They'll drive to the mall.

You're going to put some in the MHS building? Good luck. That's a healthy walk from downtown on a winter day. And if it's apartments for the well-heeled, you can bet it will have garages.

On a project like this, a city usually begins with a development plan. But it didn't begin with a development plan in this case of MHS; it began as a profit-making scheme for a builder. It's all very reminiscent of the hockey stadum farce. First comes a scheme for somebody to make a big profit. Then we get fancy talk out of council about how this is good for the future of the city. And all this gobbeldygook comes from a city council which clearly has no plan for the future, and which doesn't seem to know even what a plan is.

And, of course, there will be open and honest bidding for the deal. Of course. This is New Brunswick.

And of course we can trust it all because we've had three (count them, three) insightful reports by Brent Mazerolle and, today, another editorial saying what a great idea it is.

And can we have faith that if its good for The Moncton Times and Transcript, it's good for Moncton?
Come on. Has the TandT ever lied to you before?


  1. Uh Graeme, its not the City rushing to develop that land for the school, its the Province and developer, Romspen. The Province currently has a gun to the head of City Council to re-zone the area to allow for the development. if they reject the re-zoning, they have been told to forget about cooperation with the Province on other files. Council does not want MHS at Royal Oaks.

  2. I know the heat is coming from the province. I also know that council has a responsbility to push back - and it has a responsibility to show a reasoned plan for development. It hasn't done much of either.

    Somebody has to kick back at the morally lax way this province is run. A city council that just caves in isn't much use to us.

    And, of course, the TandT has a responsibility to report all of that far more fully than it has.