Saturday, April 14, 2012

April 14: Those buildings are ugly....

On the front page of the The Moncton Times and Transcript, under the title "It's time to dream big", is what  looks like an oversized aircraft  hangar with what appear to be giant chimneys for what must be  massive firelplaces. It has a garish mural stuck up on one of the chimneys and, for no apparent reason, a huge area in front that might be suitable for a parking lot but which is covered in brick, with people standing around on it  (I have no idea why) and benches in the bleak setting that, wisely, nobody is sitting on.

Generally, it is a facade that is disconnected, awkward, and ugly. Rather than modern, it looks early industrial revolution, reminiscent of some of the worst architecture turned out  by Stalin's Russia. Even worse, there is no sense this is designed for people.

The roof over the entry is high enough to accomodate a team of giraffe acrobats standing on each other. And what is that huge, brick courtyard for? Leisurely strolls on a cold and windy day? Where is the connectin between this building and the human scale? I would rather stroll around a warehouse than around this  ovsized blight on the landscape.

That's the best one.  The others are on p. A10. One appears to glory in a roof capped with what looks like giant sheets of crumplied foil paper. Another is just unimaginative, ugly and, again, hopelessly out of any sense of human scale. The last one looks more atractive, but wildly impractical for most of our year.

These are designs that were outdated by the 1930s.

None shows any sense of how people will get to the exciting spot. The only recognition of this crucial factor is the front page design which shows curbside parking for one car. (I don't think that's going to do it.)

None of them shows any sense of where the shops and cafes and all the other promised wonders fit in.

If we throw a hundred million at any of these designs, the world will, indeed, notice Moncton. And the world will mutter, "Hicksville."

Still, Brent Mazerolle, writing about the  "events centre" churns out an outhouse load of pure gush that one usually finds only in the earliest dreams of puberty. So does the editorial. Obviously, this is timed to fit in with the elections. So expect to be slobbered on for a few weeks more.

Then there are pages of names of candidates for council and DEC elections. The platform of George Leblanc ( mayor) is a typical one. He wants to see Moncton grow as a vibrant and prosperous city. Wow! That's a relief. We have to be sure not to elect someone who wants to see Moncton shrink as a dead and poor city.

The DEC lineup is even worse. Many of the seats  have only one candidate. And nobody has any platform or any suggestion of the issues. Obviously, very few people in this city give a damn one way or the other. Well, what the's easier just to blame the teachers.

I guess the old saying is true. We get the government we deserve.

The op ed page has a column by Brian Gallant, announcing his bid for leadership of the NB Liberal Party. It's the standard column of its type; but some people will take it seriously as though it actually says something. That's why New Brunswick will vote Liberal next time; then get mad at them and swear to vote Conservative the time after.

There are a few things worth reading. As always, I like the student columns in Whatever. There's nothing really strking this time. But they're sensible; and they're well written. This time, I'm particularly impressed by Jessica Melanson who is, in grade eleven, writing a novel that she hopes to publish. Gosh! In grade eleven, I was so busy failing, I never even thought of writing a novel.

I'm impressed, too, that Isabelle's Agnew's father does work that takes him and his family on trips all over the world.  I am available for adoption.

Then there's the Faith page, E6. Now, I have to confess that while I am Christian, I am not a Baptist or fundamentalist of any sort.  But I thought that Pastor David Hawksworth of First Elgin Baptist wrote a pretty good column. So I forgive him for being a Baptist.

Finally, there is a letter from Dave Daigle, Jr. of Riverview, urging us to walk or bicycle more - instead of using our cars. I quite agree. But I want to draw attention to his first sentence because it draws attention to a problem we ignore.

He writes, "The price of gas is getting brutally high and it may get worse before it gets better."

It is brutally high.

If is going to get worse but....

it is not going to get better. Not ever.

We have been walking through a tunnel for over a century. For years, it sloped gently upwards. Then it got steeper; the climb became, it's curving up even more steeply. And just ahead of us, just ahead, an iron gate has come crashing down.

We can pretend it's not happening. It doesn't matter what we pretend. The steep slope and the iron gate are there. The age of cheap fossil fuels is almost over. But all our cities and suburbs and schools (and, I might add, our hockey arenas and civic centres) are designed around cheap fossil fuel.

Maybe, with luck, it will only be ten dollars a litre in ten years. Maybe we'll still be able to pay for it by doing away with health care or decent housing, stuff like that. But the slope and the gate will still be there.

So - in this election time - what does Moncton plan to do about it? How does a suburb like Royal Oaks fit into it? How does a massive events centre fit into it? How many people will be driving to Moncton at ten bucks a litre to see a hockey game? To commute to work? How do big high schools fit into it? How do rural schools fit into it? What are the plans for mass transportation? For heat?

And even if we were to find vast, new reserves of fossil fuels, the iron gate is still there. Our environment cannot stand the damage of continued pollution. It doesn't matter what we think. It doesn't matter if we prefer not to think. The iron gate is still there.

Do any of our candidates have any thoughts about this? Planning has to come from somewhere. And we're certainly not going to find it in The Moncton Times and Transcript. They still haven't noticed that we could be in a world war by this summer.

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