Thursday, May 10, 2012

May 10: Sackville hopefuls seek a better community

I"m so glad to  hear that news about the Sackville candidates. I had been worried they would say they were all trying to make Sackville a worse community.

That's the general level of coverage for the municipal elections - saying lots of nothing. What gets coverage is taxes, bicycle lanes, garbage removal,... The only other issue we get coverage of is the importance of spending money to attract concert goers and to spend a hundred million on an arena.

(By the way, anyone who has not thought about the risks of spending huge sums of public money on commercial/sports/tourism projects should google The Guardian, Athens Olympics, May 10. It's a story about how Athens punched above its weight to squander billions on Olympic facilities less than a decade ago - and how facilities are now filthy, dilapidated, collapsing, unusable ...with Greece not able to afford even sweeping the floors..These products of crooked contracting involving private business and friends in government, these expensive piles of garbage have not - and will not ever - pay for thsemselves. On the contraary, today's Greeks and the next generation, too, will be paying for them the rest of their lives. Or  you can stay closer to home and look up the record of Monctreal's Olympic stadium.)

In its elections coverage, the Moncton Times and Trnascript has ignored all the major issues that we should be discussing.

For example, the pattern for Moncton housing was developed over a century ago - and it was a pattern well suited to a small town with all parts easily reached on foot. The housing was largely the rural housing of the period - that is, separate family homes. It was a pattern that took up a lot of land space per family.

Larger cities went through another stage. Distance became a far more important issue, so houses were built in solid blocks - no space on each side, no backyards, no front yards.  Even with that space saving, Main St. was much too far for a walk The tramway, first horse-drawn, but then electric, helped. But it was too expensive for regular use by most people.

What developed, then, were commercial areas in each district, always at major intersections served by the tranway.There one would would find grocerty stores, movie theatres, restaurants, shops...

That changed in the boom after World War Two; and what changed it was the huge growth of car ownership. But the car really didn't fit in those crowded districts. Thus the spread of shopping malls, the deaths of main streets and of neighbourhood shopping- and the tremendous increase of suburbs and urban sprawl with the suburbs designed as echoes of the small town of the 1880s in their low density housing with lots of green space.

But that depended on cheap gas - and on a lack of undestanding of what the gasoline engine was doing to our environment. Like it or not, the postwar world of  the private car, of urban sprawl, of  huge areas of detached homes is just about over. So what's the new plan? What will people live in? How will they move around? The newspaper and most of the candidates seem to have given this no thought at all.

Hint - building a hockey arena will not solve the problem.

Good columns, as always, by Alec Bruce and Jody Dallaire.

Editorials? The first one is just childish. The second one is a shallow look at the Quebec student strike. It's major point is that Quebec students should not be asked for lower fees when they are already the lowest in Canada.

Then, one presumes, the editorialist pointed a finger at de Adder and said, "heel." And de Adder did with his not-very-imaginative cartoon..

I wonder - When executives, already getting the highest salaries in Canada, demand more, plus lavish bonuses even after a bad year, does the TandT print eidtorials saying they already have too much compared to the rest of us? Do you think it ever  would say such a thing?

The student strike raises serious issues about education and the role of universities in todauy's world. The Time and Transcript doesn't mention them. In fact, I would be willing to bet that nobody at the paper has the faintest idea what those issues are. (Nor, incidentally, do the politicians - or most of the administrators who run the universities.)

I had meant to add some suggestions on where to look on the web for free amd informative newspapers on foreign affairs. Google offers a list of the top 100 news sources in the world. But it's not a list I would take seriously. There are, however, a half dozen or so, in either French or English,  that are worth taking seriously, and that are freely available on the web (and also at cheap subscription rates for e readers.) I may cover this topic tomorrow.

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