Sunday, 17 April 2011

Myopic thinking on preserving the natural world / a letter to the editor of the North Shore News

Letter to the Editor / North Shore News                                                April 9, 2011

In his April 7th Letter to the Editor, Jerome Irwin presents the idea of an “ever-diminishing iconic North Shore way of life” and presumably its “character”.  The character outlined by Mr. Irwin seems to consist solely of single-family neighbourhoods and traffic-calmed streets.

What is being described is in fact, an artifact of the post-war baby-boom automobile culture, all of it fuelled and made possible by cheap and plentiful petroleum. What of the previous character of the ‘30s that included streetcars, walkable neighbourhoods with corner stores?  Why is there no call for the return of that character, or the character that existed here prior to European settlement?

There is a hard contradiction in Mr. Irwin’s bombastic cry for a “pristine natural world” and the fact that what he seeks to “protect and preserve” is the same unsustainable suburban model widely recognized as the cause of many of  the problems Mr. Irwin himself seeks refuge from, in his “quiet, traffic-calmed streets”.

While the “hopeful dreamers” of the North Shore prepare their mourning suits, DNV Council, along with a large number of community residents are setting themselves to the hard work and realities of creating a viable future for the District of North Vancouver.  All environmental, economic and demographic projections require that DNV Council grapple meaningfully with major issues of infrastructure, sustainability and services for its population in the coming years.   They, and we, have an obligation to do this.  It is not merely a matter of choice.

Critical issues of a swelling, aged population, spread out across the single-family neighbourhoods, will experience increasing difficulties (including costs) in maintaining their lives and homes.  Young people are choosing to live in other parts of the Lower Mainland, shunning the high cost suburban landscape for a more urban lifestyle.  A recent indepth Globe & Mail article outlined this trend, “Those new suburbanites are demanding better transit.  They want cafes, shops and schools within walking distance.”

How long into the future would Mr. Irwin prefer that DNV Council and planners keep the world and its complexities at bay? 

Douglas Curran                  

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