The Teeny Weeny Apology That Couldn’t

If you were one of the five people left in attendance late last Monday evening at the Matsqui Centennial Auditorium you might have noticed the little speech Mayor Peary made, at the very, very end of the council meeting.  If the matter slipped your notice don’t blame yourself; even for those who were waiting hopefully the “apology” held all the satisfaction as receiving a pair of used socks from Santa.

It all started with that announcement from Ed Fast and his well-televised “potential” delivery of wads of our federal tax dollars into the hands of Mr. Peary.  That we are being forced to watch our own money pass from one political pocket to another in a silly ploy to try to distract us – much like a slow-motion shell game > sigh … it’s just so painful watching them salivate at our supposed stupidity … < is plenty enough fodder for another subject.  For this matter the subject is the quote the Mayor made, on national television, regarding the P3 opposition and how they are “being more than a little mendacious”.

M … men … nope, must be the next page … ah, there it is, m-e-n-d-a-c-i-o-u-s … “untruthful”; “false”; “lying”.  Ah, so Mr. Peary wants the world to know that anyone opposed to the P3 is a liar.  Oh!  Ahem.  My mistake – more than a little … lying.  Oooh, that’s so much better.

How does that sit with you?  If you’ve managed to read a bit about the P3 issue and maybe even perused some of the data, and found the city stance lacking in substance and even opined such, then Congratulations!  Your city leader, for whom you pay generously, wants this country to know that you are MORE THAN A LIAR!

Sit well with you?  You’re not alone.  And so, with that insult under her skin one faithful and unassuming grandmother took her hurt and concern to the Mayor’s office where, after a brief meeting, she left with the promise of a forthcoming apology at the very next 7 pm city council meeting. And the rest is history.  The weak apology that reiterated the “mendacious”ness of the P3 opposition, the lack of any sincere regret in slamming those who would exercise their right to free opinion on the matter, the blatant P3 promotion overtaking what little “apology” was offered.  Yep, it was all there.

And you missed it.  Either you left the crowded auditorium after the three excellent delegations had spoken and were on your way to de-stressing at home with a large bottle and a novel, or you had long since turned off Shaw and doffed your bunny slippers for bed.  And that was exactly what our esteemed leader was aiming for, no?

So, what now?  Well, there is still the matter of a sincere apology to be delivered.  Perhaps it is futile to continue along that path but efforts are being made to try to right that wrong.  More accurately, however, it is incorrect for the Mayor to make an apology locally when the … act … was perpetrated on national television.  This is a matter for the CTV to amend, with an airing of an apology on their network.  And repeated requests have been made to that effect, with, so far, no calls returned.

Is this important to you?  Is it right that an official representative feels free to brand constituents with derogatory and slanderous statements with impunity?  How do you feel about this official, and his administration, if neither believes they must even pretend to respect the people they represent?

Will you let this lay, as acceptable, or will you make your outrage known to those who are responsible?  Or, more succinctly, will you expect respect in the next term even if you do nothing to earn it at the end of this one?

Democracy and free speech are not ours to have because they are written down on some piece of paper over in Ottawa.  They are maintained ONLY through action and are very easily finished off by apathy.  The veterans and war-torn know that truth very well; their sacrifices give me the freedom to live my life as a relative coward, and my relief knows no bounds.  But for that I hold a debt and must honour it with using my voice loudly and often.  How else can I repay, regain, and maintain what has been so dearly given?  How else can you?

 

Advertisements

No Martini-Farmers In Bradner

The Rural Ratepayers’ Association held their second public meeting on the upcoming municipal election last night at the Bradner Community Hall.  Six council and two Mayoral candidates were selected to speak and answer questions at the well-attended venue.  It was a fruitful event for discovering just how much some of these candidates actually know about the city they would seek to lead.

Meghann Coughlin opened with her concerns regarding social issues and affordability for lower-income residents.  Bruce Banman talked about being concerned for his grandchildrens’ futures in this city if the status quo remains. Henry Braun showed us some interesting figures, based on city numbers, that belie the pro-P3 stand.  Aird Flavelle and Lynn Perrin expanded on their extensive experiences with city hall and the problems they have identified – and fought – over the years.  Kevin Chapman reiterated his stance against the P3 and current spending practices; Mark Rushton had a beef with the continued lack of planning with regard to our roadways and interchanges and how that oversight will negatively affect us for years to come.  Doris Woodman McMillan echoed the financial angst that we are all facing while she supported the P3 proposal as a sound investment.

The evening was incumbent-free, although the spirit of council was evident in the bandying about of Dave Loewen’s previous reference to those in our agriculture industry as “martini farmers”.  As expected, the sentiment went down like a warm, flat beer on a hot day.

This meeting could have been summed up as the “same old, same old” but for the casual atmosphere that encouraged some difficult questions from the floor.  Some of the biggest surprises of the evening didn’t involve politics; it was interesting to see how the candidates responded to the glitch of a non-working microphone in a large and airy hall and an audience that required good acoustics.  I did not know that the unassuming and ever-patient Aird Flavelle of the interminable-council-meeting-attendances could be so animated; or that Meghann Coughlin could take matters into her own hands and, with aplomb, deliver her speech from a point she deemed more suitable, for sound purposes, than the podium.  Henry Braun earns an A+ for doing his homework and presenting it to the class in the form of a large, hand-drawn graph, effectively displaying the city’s confusing data in a professional manner that could be easily comprehended by all.  Kevin Chapman seems pretty stalwart for such a young guy, who won’t back down even when it’s not clear if his views are the popular ones.  Lynn Perrin showed the ease in which she can answer detailed questions with regard to city workings and history, and her involvement with the issues to date.  Doris Woodman McMillan and Mark Rushton, the sole pro-P3 candidates in this panel, both scored points on their insistence that financial responsibility and proper planning are essential to building this city up, both figuratively and literally.

However, and this is where my bias really shows, the latter two candidates were far too obvious, in both their opening remarks and the responses they gave to audience questions, in their attempts to ignore the P3 elephant in the room.  Whether they were expounding on the benefits of federal grant money – while only grudgingly acknowledging that it is OUR money in the first place – or their plea that we leave the past behind and move forward, it was clear that they were hoping to bypass the P3 question, and its Plan A predecessor, altogether in lieu of more personally favourable issues.  Their insistence that this proposal is a sound one while showing their ignorance through their inabilities to accurately answer most questions about the project are baffling.  Particularly when their campaign slogans revolve around fiscal responsibility, one wonders how we can trust them to be able to achieve any success at city hall if they are so willing to endorse a mega-project with virtually no information to go on.

It is also interesting to hear that more people are contemplating the idea of a Money Pit (aka the AESC) firesale, that we may “stop the bleeding” and put a bit of much-needed cash in our coffers for infrastructure needs.  As put forward to the candidates last night it was accepted (dubiously by some) as an option to be explored.  However, the same proposal made to Woodman McMillan at the previous Rural Ratepayers’ meeting last February received a response that can only described as … icy.  Actually, it was no response at all, unless turning around and showing one’s backside while walking away is considered a response.  As a Chamber of Commerce devotee, it would appear she is beholden to maintaining the Chamber’s sacred cows, even if their milking days are long over.  The real question is, while the taxpayers are footing the bill for the hay, who is it that hopes to be the recipient of the hamburger?  Hmmm?

Unless I am mistaken there were no media present last night, making this the second candidate event that did not rate with either of our local papers.  These events are valuable to the residents of this city, more so because they are not affiliated with the “old boys club”, and that seems to be the factor that decides whether the editors in this city deem the meetings worthy or not.  *An apology to Kurt Langmann of the Aldergrove Star is in order.  He most certainly was in attendance that night; I am at fault in my hasty assumption, particularly since he identified himself and posed his own thoughtful questions of the panel.  Mea culpa.

It seems that city hall is not the only place that needs a clean sweep in Abbotsford.

Why Would A City Want To Be Homeless?

Here is BC, virtually every city is encompassed by a regional district.  We are familiar with the GVRD to our west, and we are, of course, under the Fraser Valley Regional District.  These districts provide “group” services to cities and communities that share a common location and similar needs.  In this way, smaller “have-not” locales are supported by the more able “have” cities, and the latter reap the benefit of pooled resources for larger services and infrastructure.

Not too long ago city hall proposed pulling out of the Fraser Valley Regional Library system.  Such a move would have resulted in a removal of library resources in smaller areas of the FVRD.  Trimming unnecessary expenditures is always a good way to start reducing overall budget demands.  Cutting off library services to other FVRD denizens, however, does nothing to balance our books; it’s the equivalent to dining out on steak and lobster while refusing, on the point of cost, to buy a box of cookies from a Girl Guide.  In any language, it’s known as being insufferably cheap.

Thank goodness that idea was quickly dropped off a cliff.  But the ever resourceful city hall quickly found a new plan to latch onto:  A great, gooey gas tax, all for Abbotsford.  But wait!  That can’t be done without the FVRD endorsing it, and that’s about as likely to happen as PETA recruiting overweight, middle-aged, burger-chomping protestors with a penchant for clothing.

So, what now, Abbotsford?  How about secession from that FVRD?  Yeah, that’s the ticket!  And so that’s just what Full-Steam-Ahead Peary and council – with the exception of Patricia Ross – decided to do, this past Monday council meeting.  The vote was passed, and the resolution will go to the provincial government seeking the approval needed for Abbotsford to be the solitary kingdom of Emperor Peary’s dreams.  The only hitch being that the province is quite unlikely to approve of Abbotsford being all alone like an island in a sea of districts, particularly when it is currently in and well-served by one of those districts.  What reason could possibly sway our leaders in Victoria to grant this pie-in-the-sky request?  In reality, there is probably little danger of this devious little plan succeeding.  You may sigh with relief now.

But wait.  This is the city of Abbotsford, where drama is always preferred in lieu of common sense.  It’s a gas tax, among other goodies, that Preposterous Proposal Peary is seeking, and the GVRD has a gas tax, and the provincial government could look quite favourably upon a request for this city to join its western counterparts …

And voila!  We get to become the crusty speck on the windshield of our great Hummer neighbour on the coast.  Policing?  Taxes?  An injection site on every corner?  Welcome to the GVRD.  And the best part about all this?

The city decided you had no right to know about this vote!  That’s right, this resolution, debated and passed right in front of the audience on Monday afternoon, was NOT ON THE AGENDA.  (Why bother with democracy, eh?)  It wasn’t on the agenda as it was published on the previous Friday afternoon, and it wasn’t on the hard-copy agenda as it was picked up by media moments before the meeting.  It wasn’t listed ANYWHERE.  As of Monday afternoon, it did not exist as an item for discussion or public knowledge until … until … surprise! unPredictable Peary decided to introduce it as New Business.  And thus it was passed.  With a fair bit of jaw-dropping from those who happened to be in the audience that day for other matters (thank you, Lynn, for the heads-up), and no little amount of – futile – protest on their parts.

A debate and decision about something that will significantly affect residents in every aspect of their city life from now on, popping up without warning and forethought.  If this doesn’t shake you up then you are probably not as lucid as you should be.  Have your pulse checked to make sure you still have one.

And what is the moral of this story?  Well, it is election time, and if this is the type of business you think benefits you, as a taxpayer and resident, then go ahead and vote for more of the same.  Imagine what a bit more time and power in the hands of these … um … ahem, politicians … could accomplish.

If, on the other hand, you are a thinking and breathing human able to stand upright and walk without scraping your nails on the pavement, you have a healthy sense of ire at these types of shenanigans and want to do everything in your power to prevent this type of “governance” in the future.  That means voting with intent.  That means considering that majority at the council table that agreed with Precarious Peary, and making sure that an “X” does not accidentally find itself beside any of their names on the ballot on election day.

How else can we keep from sinking even lower?

Candidate Gems

Candidate meetings!  Debates!  Q & A!

Excited yet?  Okay, so it’s not a trip to Disneyland, but democracy does require public participation in this ritual.  As the election looms near the need for citizen awareness increases.  Are you getting informed?

A week ago Waterwatch and Cinema Politica sponsored a fantastic evening of candidate meet-and-greet and a great movie, as well.  And food.  So much food!  Alas, only two of our council incumbents felt it was worth their time to mingle with the hoi polloi, and only one of them, Councillor Ross, bothered to watch the P3 movie selected for the event.  This movie documented the perils of the P3 movement across Europe, with many interviews with beleaguered leaders in varied countries.  It was a frightening cautionary tale for us as we contemplate making the same deals with the same devils.  Interesting that our Mayor and (most of) council do not believe they need to educate themselves about something they are determined to foist upon us.  Must be bliss to live in such ignorance.

Neither of the local papers felt it was newsworthy to attend and report on this event.  Apparently, all those citizens and candidates who believed the event to be worthy enough to swarm The Reach are not of interest to the papers.  I hope the editors received their due reward from city hall for obeying orders to avoid anything not sanctioned by the city propaganda machine.

But what is the result of all this election pandering?  Do you know who you want to lead this city for the next three years?  Can there be any hope of wading through the websites and facebook pages to find those gems worthy of a ballot “X”?  I am quite clear on my likes and dislikes, and here I will share them with you.  Take them or leave them, just remember to vote!

My mayoral choice is very simple:  Who is the candidate most likely to give Mayor Peary a bootprint on his backside?  Seriously, I have high hopes for this city, but they can only be achieved with the right leader.  George Peary ain’t it.  I’ve had enough.  I’m willing to take a chance on almost anyone else, and I’m happy that my choice is not unpalatable to me, and even has a fighting chance of defeating GP.  Plenty good enough for me.

My choice for council is, initially, quite clear.  No incumbents.  I can’t think of a less worthy group of individuals who have endeavoured to blow virtually any chance of redeeming themselves over the last three years (and, for some, many years).  The great gaping mess we’re in?  Yep, they orchestrated it.  Every one of them.  And they are willing, nay, eager, to throw us even further into the pit of doom.  Even Councillor Ross, who has declared herself the lone voice in the city P3 debacle, does not display a very commendable record.  Yes, she does stand up for the odd environmental issue that pops up, but she regularly ignores the smaller, but just as important ones, and often rules against the environment.  We can do better than that.  Much better.

So, my options are with the new faces; how to choose?  I can easily eliminate those who feel they need to use their religion or church to entice the pious. This city is such a mixed bag of colours and faiths that it requires leaders who can set aside personal spiritual biases in favour of the bigger picture.  If you advertise your church connections for your campaign or put a fish on your sign, you are not for me.

I can also eliminate that “successful” leader of an association – with the “hundreds” of members that don’t exist – who hasn’t actually held a meeting for years now.  I need honesty.  Really.

The two pro-P3 candidates?  The one held a bit of potential for me, but his recent P3 declaration clarifies the concerns I have had regarding all his highbrow queasy-for-me political connections.  And the Chamber Maid cannot represent me when her interests are exclusive to her club and cohorts and would punish me for not being part of that club.

You may think that I am despairing of finding at least one desirable candidate.  This would be true but for the fact that most of my wish list is fulfilled by not one but TWO candidates!  The hard work in sitting through boring council meetings month after month, year after year, sifting through all the documents and seeking even more through FOI requests – and NEVER giving up even when repeatedly shunted by the city! – level-headed, intelligent, accessible, and so on.  My votes go to ..

Lynn Perrin and Aird Flavelle.  Lynn is amazing in her tenacity and hard work.  She is no bully, but some have said that she is aggressive – as if it’s a bad thing.  Don’t we want a councillor who will work tirelessly to get to the truth and not accept being ignored by the powers-that-be?  Would we be in the muck we’re in if we had councillors who were more aggressive in getting to the truth AND ensuring that citizens were part of the process? Lynn puts in phenomenal hours of work for this city, unpaid; her dedication to democracy and the people of this city should be rewarded, and we should be blessed to have her as our representative.  She is a pleasure to work and socialize with and has the ability to bring dignity back to our city proceedings.  An asset that should be utilized, not relegated to the sidelines.

Aird is also a dedicated council watcher and participant.  He doesn’t stand himself out in the crowd, so his contributions are under-the-radar.  But he can be counted on to put in the time necessary to be an informed and reasonable voice for us when needed.  His platform is one that can turn this city around and help us to fulfill our potential instead of moldering in incompetency.  I look forward to seeing what he can do for us when he is on the “inside” instead of speaking from the outskirts.

There is a third contender that, with a little more research, may become my third vote.  Terry Stobbart has willingly engaged in city issues for a few years now with hard work and perseverance.  Others who share her personal circumstances are not often found involved in politics, as they are usually too busy trying to overcome the difficulties that life can sometimes throw at people.  Terry takes on more than her share of civic responsibilities with a happy demeanor and the ambition to make a significant difference.  Now that she has put herself forward, her name will be familiar to you and me as she continues to rally and inspire citizens in many aspects of this city.  She is determined, logical, and empathetic, and I look forward to seeing more of her in the future – maybe as a councillor!

I am not in agreement with my choice candidates political platforms 100%.  I know that that is impossible, and it isn’t even desirable.  Imagine being governed by a host of people identical to you.  Frightening, isn’t it?  But I’m quite confident that my candidate choices are reasonable people with reasonable platforms that will benefit ALL who live in this city, and the initiative and ethic to make good things happen.  What more can I ask for?

Having done my homework, I’m very happy with my choices.  I have two, and possibly three, votes to cast for council this election, and that is more than I need to be part of the democratic process.  Remember, it is important to select only those candidates that you are absolutely, positively, thrilled with, and if you can only consider one candidate then it is one, perfect vote.  Voting for candidates that are not your ultimate favourites completely negates your other choices.  Don’t do that to yourself.  You’re worth good representation.

 

 

Does Anybody Have A Really Big Abacus?

The election is in full-swing and with all the P3 debate I can’t help but wonder if Staples has run out of calculators yet.  Or maybe it’s Selsun Blue that people are snatching up; there are enough heads being frantically scratched that we may get a white Christmas this year.  There are the numbers from the city, and then the new numbers from the city, and then the REALLY new numbers from the city, and then the fools who try to decipher the numbers from the city and, for their trials, get a totally different set of numbers.  Unlike a jazz club, nothing really jives here.

Well, today I received an interesting insight into some of the city’s consideration of costs.  I will paraphrase the more pertinent parts of this Water and Sewer Commission report (No. 37-2011) as follows (the bolding is mine):

“Although development cost charges (DCC) provide much of the funding, these funds are not available until new residents and businesses move into the community.”  “Staff investigated P3 as one way of mitigating the funding challenges.”  ” … shows that a P3 can provide a cost benefit of approximately 10%.”  “… challenges become apparent as designs are developed … usually lead to increased costs.”  “Master Plan cost estimates were based on conceptual planning, with accuracies of +/- 50%.”  “Most of the latest cost estimates are considered accurate to +/- 15%.”

Wow.  If I wasn’t sold on the P3 aspect before … well, that sure doesn’t do it for me.  Thank you to the sharp citizen for spending time reading those city reports carefully and passing them along for others to share.

Now for some new number-crunching, by another reader who takes tax hikes seriously.  According to this reader, using only city-provided information, “If our city partners in a P3, $95 million would be financed privately.  The interest rate for the private borrowing would be 7.59 % compared to 4.59 % through the Municipal Finance Authority.  Using an on-line amortization table, I found that – over a 25-year period – the private rate generated more than $52 million in extra interest charges (in excess of $117 million interest for the private rate compared to less than $65 million interest on the public rate).  Then there’s the operating costs of the treatment plant.  And no, it will not cost less to have a private operator — it will cost 50% more: $2.09 million annually for a private operation compared to $1.3 million to have our city run the plant.  And I did not make these figures up — they come from the Deloitte report presented to council in April of this year.  So our city wants us to applaud a $61 million federal grant when in fact — over a 25-year contract — we would pay $71.75 million more to go private.  Here’s how I got that figure:  $2.09 million minus $1.3 million equals $0.79 million annually.  That figure times 25 years equals $19.75 million.  Add that to the $52 million extra in interest and we get $71.75 million.  Yet we’re told the private route would save us money?  Oh yes, I forgot there are some who use only Plan A math — a rather esoteric form not to be recommended for the uninitiated.”

Is it all clear for you now?  There will be a test; November 19th – strictly a pass-or-fail grade.  For our taxes.  For our water.  For us.

 

 

 

Were You There?

On Tuesday, October 11th, the Council of Canadians and CUPE held a public meeting at the UFV Lecture Theatre to highlight the potential ramifications of the new CETA.  What is CETA, you ask?  It’s the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement that Canada has negotiated with the European Union.  These negotiations, according to the event’s organizers, have been quietly taking place behind closed doors.  CUPE and the Council of Canadians are on a cross-country tour to bring this issue to light; some of the reasons for their concern are that this deal will:

Threaten our democracy by putting corporate rights first;

Encourage privatizing of Canadian drinking water and wastewater services;

Threaten local job creation and “buy-local” policies;

Cause prescription drug costs to skyrocket by at least $2.8 billion per year;

Allow big corporations to ignore or challenge environmental regulations.

Speakers Maude Barlow, National Chapter of Council of Canadians, Paul Moist, National President, CUPE, and Lynn Perrin, Spokesperson for WaterWatch Mission/Abbotsford, provided much food for thought and a riveting evening.  The full theatre, including many university students, gives one hope that this is a sign of the interest all our generations take in these important matters.  The following is a sum-up from one of the many impressed audience members:

“On Tuesday October 11, Lynn Perrin joined Maude Barlow of the Council of Canadians and Paul Moist of CUPE for a lively evening of information sharing at the local university.  The auditorium was at capacity, and very motivated by all three speakers.

Lynn is a local community activist, a representative for Abbotsofrd-Mission Water Watch and a candidate for Abbotsford council.  Lynn is very concerned with Abbotsford’s proposal to partner with a P3 to increase our supply of water.  Lynn made it clear Tuesday evening that this increased supply is required less for current needs, and more for future development.

She also focused on the lack of transparency offered to Abbotsford citzens when it comes to the P3 issue, and shared her journey with the audience.  Lynn said that she has requested and read many city reports, some of which indicate that planning to go P3 has been in the works for many months.

She informed us that the city has been aware of the need to explore the expansion of our water system since at least 2006, and has instead directed money to other projects, such as the local arena, the McCallum and Clearbrook overpasses, and the Abbotsford airport.

Lynn also mentioned the 2009 Polis study that reported that conservation could take Abbotsford to at least 2020 without our having to spend hundreds of million of dollars on the Stave Lake project.

Another concern she shared was the escalating cost of the Stave Lake project – going from less than $200 million to a current price of $345 million.  Particularly considering the decreased amount of water that will be supplied, Lynn said this is a possible way for a P3 to look like it is coming in under budget.”

Thanks to the very astute citizen for submitting her observations; it sounds as if the evening was a true eye-opener for some.  As was pointed out above, Lynn Perrin is running for Abbotsford council, and I will be giving my own two-bits on the candidates in future posts.  Until then, I think this is plenty to ponder for those who want to consider the directions our leaders are taking us.  Information and action are the two halves of a successful democracy.  I’ve provided you with some of the former; the rest is up to you, if you care enough.

 

 

 

The Mushroom Syndrome

The city P3 campaign is in high gear and, so far, it is shaping up to be quite an inventive affair.  Our esteemed leaders are in a froth to tell you just how wonderful a private partnership will be for us – well, with the exception of Councillor Ross, who does not believe this proposal is all it’s being praised to be.  She is as concerned as those who have studied this issue extensively, and who are frightened at the prospect of rushing into a deal with limitless ramifications.  The scare tactics being used would have us believe that the taps will run dry if we don’t broker this deal as of yesterday.  That we cannot wait any longer to explore the provincial and federal fundings that will be available next year, and the year after, and so on, to keep our water in public control.  As with that eager young man standing at your front door, encyclopedias in hand, the effects of letting this limited-time offer slip away will be catastrophic!

So, how does a reasonably ordinary, reasonably intelligent person scrape the rotting undergrowth away to find the tasty truffle they are seeking?

There’s no need to get bogged down by all the numbers and rhetoric.  The truth is easily digested in just a few points on this issue.  Unfortunately, the city is being conspicuously silent on those points.

The propaganda price tag is nothing less than $200,000.00.  At that cost we should be awash in confidence and optimism instead of this doomed sense of deja vu.  Why would such a spectacular idea need so much funding – shouldn’t it sell itself on its own merits?  Keep in mind it didn’t take nearly that much (although my wallet’s still hurtin’) to squeak Plan A over the finish line, a nose hair ahead of the “naysayers”.  Let’s take a look at how much information that much money is not buying you.

Ever heard of the POLIS report?  Not surprising.  The POLIS Water Sustainability Project at the University of Victoria commissioned a 2009 report on Abbotsford and Mission’s joint water needs.  The conclusions of that report were that, contrary to the city’s current position, we are not running out of water.  Conservation needs to be part of the conversation, naturally, but we already achieved large water savings with outdoor sprinkling bans in 2009 and 2010; the same bans that were lifted this year because there is plenty of water to go around …

Now, conservation is not a four-letter word.  Mayor Little, Henny Penny and the rest of the councillors act as if it is, but they would also like you to surrender yourself to Foxy Loxy without a second thought.  If you are prone to thinking for yourself, however, you may want to consider how conservation fits into the equation.

Showering our multiple-filtered and treated drinking water on lawns and driveways is our downfall.  Peeing in it is also a travesty, but I’ll get to that later.  A rainbarrel and pump can meet a small yard’s water needs quite adequately, at a cost of about $200.  The system is rather idiot-proof, and simply taking our exterior water usage “off-grid” will ensure we have long-term significant water quantities for personal use.  And for drinking.  Because that’s what it’s for, actually.  (I know!  What a concept.)

There are plenty of options for new residential development to include rain barrels in the home design.  You don’t actually have to see them hanging around your yard; they’re simply there, right behind that tap outside.  A more complex system of using rain water to fill your toilets and washing machine starts at about $5000.  A lot of money at the outset but not much when considering a new home price overall.  It’s really just a carpet upgrade.  We stand to gain alot by encouraging smart new home development in this city.

Or we can keep putting the equivalent of Evian in our toilets.  We think it’s ridiculous when celebrities insist on bathing in it, but we’re no different.  The city has had a very low-key program of rebates for purchases of low flush toilets and front-loading washers but this is only a recent development and won’t eliminate all those virtually-new appliances installed up until recently.  There are many ways to reduce excess water usage (even employing the “let it mellow” philosophy) and they don’t have to break your personal bank at all.  But what is the city message?

We’re running out of water!  Brown lawns!  Dry bathtubs!  Farmers going broke!  (So what if they use the aquifer instead of city water?  It’s the thought that counts …)  Mass destruction, dogs and cats living together, and so on.  Except for that pesky POLIS report and all the evidence that is piled up at city hall.  But Mayor Little has a game plan and he doesn’t want you distracted.

It is true that on a handful of days each year we come close to reaching and breaching our maximum available water.  On those days, the hottest and driest of the year, we consume and waste the most water of all.  With a wee bit of planning we could mitigate the need those few days create and continue on as we do the rest of the year, with abundant and overflowing water.  It’s a choice we all need to make.  Or, rather, it’s a choice the city wants to take from us.  $200.00 each for a rainbarrel set-up, or $300,000,000.00+ for a private backdoor deal with some group based in … well, somewhere.  Watching our water usage for three or four days a year or going into unmanageable debt for the next few generations.

That’s how simple it is.  And that’s what the city doesn’t want you to know.

So think about that as you spend your fall days emptying your dehumidifier water pan and scrubbing the mould from your drippy window frames.