Nanaimo’s problem with Naysayers
The following was overheard this morning on Front Street. Two women, one pulling one of those small suitcases on wheels indicating that perhaps she was visiting or had been away, asked her friend what’s happening with the empty lot where the hotel was going to be. Her friend said she understood that the developer had withdrawn and the City was now looking for someone to build the hotel but this time not including the land in the park for condo towers. And that hopefully that would work out. But, she said, the problem is that in Nanaimo there are so many naysayers. People take pride in opposing things without making the effort to suggest something better.
I hear this mantra often. Why does Nanaimo seem to be teeming with naysayers? Giving it some thought, I came to realize that the reason there are so many naysayers is because so many dreams are floated here which demand other people’s money. In days not so long ago, if someone wanted to build something, they put together the money and built it. Or they syndicated their dream and sold it to their friends and neighbours. This latter is the way that both the Malaspina Hotel and the Civic Arena were funded. The money was not simply plucked from the pockets of taxpayers. How did we get to a state where people who are protecting their own interests against taxation for non-essential projects are naysayers? Whatever happened to personal responsibility?
Ron – I’ve added a category for this “The Evolution of this Blog” and I hope people will get involved and help us with it. It’s a discussion at the heart of what we want our blog to become, don’t you think?
Your repsonse to the overheard conversation is unnecessarily defensive. You miss the opportunity to better understand how the average citizen sees things — as opposed to us activists and pot stirrers who happen to take greater interest in all things civic. Most folk are mainly concerned with their families and mortgages and getting the kids to soccer practice and they have every right to that. The polarization of those who agree with us: good; those who don’t: bad, elects Councils just like the one we have right now.
We have to do a much better job of communicating with those women overheard chatting on Front Street this morning.
I am not sure how my comment is construed as defensive… Offensive, perhaps, but defensive??
I believe that you are right about most of us preferring -perhaps having- to perform so many other tasks that concern about our civic rights and obligations is overwhelmed. It is easy to ask for things, but as we are learning to our sorrow, it is not so easy to pay for them. The facts of the matter seems to be that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer and that a large part of this is brought about by the individualization of profit and the socialization of costs. As the old saying goes: Be careful what you ask for. You may get it.
We seem to be having separate conversations together. I have no basis to conclude that the concern of the women walking on Front Street “about (their) civil rights and obligations is overwhelmed”. These were people taking an interest in their city and expressing an opinion. I’d be happy to explain to them what “individualization of profit and the socialization of costs” means if you’d explain it to me first. And then you could walk me through how it will build wider participation in our blog.
Good comment from “centigrade” in the Bulletin re the blog story from Saturday.
“If this sight is only to inform us about what is happening at city hall without citizens disagreeing through a negative response then it is only an information site and does nothing for those who disagree with council decisions unless you consider that ranting.”
Disagree away. We’re just trying to keep it basically civil, but strongly held – and expressed – opinions are welcome.
Sorry, but your comment that these women were: “mainly concerned with their families and mortgages and getting the kids to soccer practice”,” seemed to imply that, while there might be time to chatter about civic events, sober consideration was too much to ask. Having recently encountered a similar situation myself (see my comments on the Port Place Mall), I can sympathize. This does not change the fact that we all need to somehow find the time to consider our civic rights and responsibilities more than once every three years (and they would like to have four).
As for the “individualization of profit and the socialization of costs”, what I am getting at is a trend for the expenditure of public money on huge projects which are far beyond the bounds of the necessities of civic order. Such projects, which used to be undertaken by private backers, such as stadiums, conference centres, hotels, etc. have now somehow become taxpayer responsibilities. These huge projects benefit a few in development/construction mightily. They benefit a few at union rates during construction, and they leave a huge vacuum of debt which is sucked from the pockets of all taxpayers regardless of what, if any, benefit they may get from them.
As for getting more readers, and especially more correspondents, my best effort is to suggest those old standbys: to write “Without Fear or Favor” so as to “Comfort the Afflicted, and Afflict the Comfortable.
I’m struggling to find a single word I disagree with but we continue to be having separate conversations together. (I grew up Catholic in Barrie Ontario and went to what was then known as the Catholic “Separate” School system. Friends would say they went to Separate Schools together. I continue to think it’s funny.)
Let’s start with personal responsibility. If I live a compact carbon neutral life, here’s what everybody else owes me for my virtue: nothing. That’s the personal part of personal responsibility – you can lead by example, you can promote and even preach. But your judgment of these prototypical citizens walking down Front Street is too harsh. They represent the reality that the public, collective expression will have a place in the economic and cultural life of our modern world. It’s the prevalent culture and it’s subject to dynamic change and influences. It’s so Canadian, eh?
I happen to know that your efforts for example are motivated by the positive and the progressive. Our prototypical strollers though don’t know that and I continue to wonder how to reach them.
I doubt I can come up with a better formula for building readers and writers here than write “Without Fear or Favor” so as to “Comfort the Afflicted, and Afflict the Comfortable.
I’m afraid I can’t agree. If you live a compact carbon neutral life others do owe you something. They should not presume the right to take what you have saved. Their right to presume ends at the tip of your nose.
I do hope that my preaching is not taken as too self righteous. I constantly have epiphanies which seem to pull the scabs from my own eyes -and I similarly have them removed by others. I had another one last night as I listened to the discussion at the FPCOW meeting about the Beban Park Facilities Plan, which reminded me that every decision has a context and that too often we focus in too tightly to be able to tell the forest from the trees. If I seem to castigate the public, I find sufficient time for self flagellation as well. As a good Catholic, though I am not sure what this has to do with the subject, you should know that we are all born in sin, but bidden to better.
In the absence of correct information people will extrapolate from the bits and pieces of information they do receive, including the information in the media from overworked reporters who really have no time to do an in-depth, complete and accurate story. Add to the fact the some would prefer to keep certain information close to their chest for whatever reason.
The people need to know. It is the government’s responsibility to inform the people whether or not they care about the cause. Otherwise, the people will make up their own minds and opinions – false or otherwise.