Connect with us

Opinion

Downtown Revitalization is not “THE” issue for our new city council. There are other more pressing issues.

Published

4 minute read

red deer city hall

Downtown revitalization was a key issue in the 1980 Red Deer municipal election that saw Bob McGhee become our mayor.

Downtown revitalization was a key issue in the 1992 Red Deer municipal election that saw Gail Surkan become our mayor.

Downtown revitalization was a key issue in the 2004 Red Deer municipal election that saw Morris Flewwelling become our mayor.

Downtown revitalization was a key issue in the 2013 Red Deer municipal election that saw Tara Veer become our mayor.

Downtown revitalization was a key issue in the 2021 Red Deer municipal election that saw Ken Johnston become our mayor.

Downtown revitalization has always been “a” key issue in Red Deer but it is not “the” key issue in Red Deer.

There have been many ideas for revitalizing the downtown. From tax freezes, tax holidays, grants for store front restorations, pedestrian walkways, patios, one- way streets, free parking, river lands, pedestrian bridge, even a canal and they all cost money.

Parkland Mall use to be the powerhouse destination point for central Alberta and some of their taxes went to pay for many of the downtown revitalization incentives. Now the malls could use some help. Anyone?

I used to work out of an office downtown, but I still felt alienated from the downtown culture, and it all became clear in one incident. I was leaving a store on Ross Street and as I stepped out the door I was bowled over by a bicyclist. My pants were torn, my leg was cut but no one spoke to me, but the staff fussed over the bicyclist by name. I got up leaned the bicycle against the parking meter and left, amazed that nobody even asked if I was okay.

I remember a business owner saying that every time the city invests in the downtown my rent goes up. The landlords benefit the most. Another talked about how losing parking stalls hurt his business, another spoke of walk-in traffic increases theft more than sales.

Councilor Frank Wong retired from city council this year citing “Unresolvable issues” and I think that the downtown is one of them. Perhaps it is time to think bigger picture.

Capstone, for example, even after all these decades and the hundreds of millions spent moving the public yards, burying services, aligning roads and promoting this 23-acre futuristic miracle neighbourhood, won’t save the downtown for such simple reasons as most pedestrians won’t cross Taylor Drive.

We have spent decades developing 30 Avenue, shopping centres, plans for 5 high schools, 2 Aquatic Centres, Pickleball courts, new firehall, walkways and playgrounds so let us make 30 Avenue the new Ross Street.

We have new shopping destinations on Gaetz south and I see they are currently upgrading storefronts without taxpayers money, shouldn’t the landlords downtown pay for their updating.

So, after voting a dozen times municipally talking about downtown revitalization, perhaps it is time to rethink the way forward.

Perhaps there is more to Red Deer than downtown? Perhaps the powers that be could expand their circle of influence?

Remember there are other key subjects that need attention, stagnant population growth, no high school for the 30% population living north of the river, crumbling infrastructure in older neighbourhoods, gangs and homeless stealing in neighbourhoods, and the mere fact that Red Deer continues to have the poorest air quality in Alberta, and Alberta has the poorest air quality in Canada. The list goes on.

So perhaps the new council will look outwards too and address other issues, like they do on downtown revitalization, too.

Just saying.

Garfield Marks

Political editor/writer and retired oilfield supervisor

Follow Author

Bruce Dowbiggin

We’re Listening: How Unhappiness Went Big Time

Published on

“For all practical purposes, a revolution has occurred in the private lives of Americans, who increasingly find themselves depressed and alone.”— Ronald W. Dworkin 2021

The unquantifiable in Covid madness is the psychological impact from its lockdowns, masks and social isolation. The stress on the population— especially the young— created by the harsh medicine of governments and health authorities has only been suggested at for most of the disaster.

But the hints of stress are there. “@EWoodhouse7 Covid-19 did not increase the normal respiratory disease morality burden for teens age 13-18 in 2020. But alcohol- & drug-induced deaths nearly DOUBLED. A 50% increase in this age group, w/this kind of death, is a massive indictment of lockdown & school closure policies.”

Domestic assaults and murders are other byproducts of isolation and fear. According to the CDC the U.S. murder rate is up 30 percent during the pandemic, the highest one-year rise ever. In a recent poll 23 percent of those polled describe themselves as unhappy— the highest such reading since 1972.

Society clearly rests on a knife’s edge as the traditional bonds of friend and family are eliminated by pandemic panic. Coping mechanisms have disappeared. People quake in fear of an impending truck armada from the West. Whom to trust?

Hence the vulnerability and hopelessness in so much of pop culture. And the stigmatizing of traditional strength and self confidence. “Thank you for your service” to military and health workers is a compliment but also a recognition how far much of society has drifted from the notion of personal risk and sacrifice.

This coincides with the radical left pushing to replace police officers with members of the care industry as first responders. While the practicality of sending untrained counsellors on domestic calls— facing deadly weapons— is fraught with danger there are city councils moving in this direction in a number of large urban areas.

The outcome of this policy is still uncertain, but the fact that it is even being considered is testament to inroads the caring industry has made in society. This week’s extensive Let’s Talk campaign on depression and mental illness underlines how the caring industry has largely overtaken the traditional family and friends— inaccessible in the lockdowns— who used to form a support group. It is ubiquitous.

Aiding in this transformation was the 2010 U.S. Affordable Care Act which established parity between mental and physical health in the insurance-reimbursement context. So everyone from credentialed psychologists down to life coaches is now a paid part of the health industry.

Young people today might believe that the caring industry has long been in society. Not so. As Ronald W. Dworkin notes in The Politicization of Unhappiness , “Although the general population of the United States has only doubled since the mid-20th century, this industry has already increased 100-fold… With the old authority figures belittled and real friends and family spread thin or even non-existent, the only people left who can fill the void — and who have the prestige to compel others to follow them down a new road — are caring professionals.

“This industry has emerged as the post-revolutionary successor to our broken social system. As is typical of a revolutionary political party, the caring industry’s components have replaced those of the old order: Its organization has replaced the previous social system, its ideology has replaced traditional culture, and its professionals have taken the place of real friends, relatives, and authority figures.”

As the Let’s Talk policy emphasizes, confessing anxiety or depression to total strangers is now seen as positive. So is acting as a freelance caregiver. Gone is the trusted family member or friend in a private setting. Often the afflicted’s confession is delivered in a group setting where the person must unburden themselves before a cohort indoctrinated in the catechism of caring.

Individuals may respond, writes Dworkin, “but not as individuals, or even as individuals with unique titles, as much as representatives of professional caring, each having been trained in roughly the same way to talk a person through a problem.”

In short, the caring industry has become a political movement with its own orthodoxy and loyalty. With a vested stake in perpetuating itself and its patients’ distress— a process jet-fuelled by the media’s Covid paranoia campaign. Does it help people? In the short term, absolutely. Long term? The jury is still out.

This confessional model has been carried into the political realm through diversity seminars. “Group therapy for addiction — an old caring-professional technique — has become the format for today’s “struggle sessions” and diversity seminars in corporate settings.” White privilege and gender bias must be shed to make progress to “happiness”.

But don’t dare question its purity. Propaganda is crucial to reinforcing the brand, says Dworkin. “Because everyone knows in advance that self-help books are written in conformity with existing prescriptions and rarely contain a single fresh idea, people who seek out these books often buy many of them, and they keep consuming them — not to learn anything new, but to bolster their conviction to act.”

In the end the message is that traditional sources of compassion— family, friends, the church— have failed. You are right to feel alone. And the caring industry— the collective of rehearsed people— is the only thing there to rescue you.

Like the movement to divert students’ education from parents and toward the public education gulag, the end game is a social revolution, one tried with lamentable effect in socialist nations in the past. As Vladimir Putin noted last year, “This is something we saw in Russia. It happened in our country before the 1917 revolution; the Bolsheviks followed the dogmas of Marx and Engels. And they also declared that they would go in to change the traditional lifestyle, the political, the economic lifestyle, as well as the very notion of morality, the basic principles for a healthy society.

“It is with puzzlement that we see the practices Russia used to have and that we left behind in distant past.”

So yes, let us commend the outreach of the caring industry. Let’s Talk has noble goals. But let us also hope people separated from loved ones and friends the last two years rediscover that the greatest unit of strength and nurturing is still the personal one of family and friends.

 

Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy is the editor of Not The Public Broadcaster (http://www.notthepublicbroadcaster.com). The best-selling author was nominated for the BBN Business Book award of 2020 for Personal Account with Tony Comper. A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada’s top television sports broadcaster, he’s also a regular contributor to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. His new book with his son Evan Inexact Science: The Six Most Compelling Draft Years In NHL History is now available on http://brucedowbigginbooks.ca/book-personalaccount.aspx

Continue Reading

Bruce Dowbiggin

Corporate Capture & Youth Checkout: The Covid Scorecard

Published on

The decade past has witnessed a Great Realignment. (Mind we said realignment, not reset.) The election of Barack Obama through Donald Trump and Covid-19 has seen a tectonic shift in the plates beneath society. Alliances have been broken. Power has shifted. Loyalties have disappeared.

The result is a new coalition, a cult alliance of tech, knowledge-based industry, culture and corporatism. Under cover of social unrest and virus paranoia these former antagonists found common cause in punishing the middle and lower classes of society for not acknowledging their elevated, superior status. (Translation: they voted for Trump.)

These woke apostles are unapologetic. Through censorship, cancel culture and financial, leverage they’ve created an oligopoly unabashed in bare-knuckled self-interest. And to constantly remind you that they’re in charge.

To understand how revolutionary this alliance is one need only recall the dirigiste fervour of the 1960s. While it seemed to everyone at the time that society might tip in the maelstrom of riot and protest, the corporate side never blinked. They viewed the Weathermen and the Red Brigade as fringe outfits that would never see power. They held to the status quo (or privilege in today’s CRT newspeak.)

That has changed, because of writers such as French socialist economist Thomas Piketty. Thanks to him Corporate America is now obsessed with Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG), not shareholder value. It is dominated by HR departments deeply committed to radical notions of social justice and racial equity. Inspired by the example of Michelle Obama, they’ve made Wall Street into Woke Street.

As we wrote in February of 2021 “the New Left now ruthlessly employs Big Tech, Wall Street and the media against its idealogical enemies— including some of its former allies… the Democratic Party of 2021 has morphed from brave to slave, dedicated to intellectual conformity, not contrary opinions. Gone are the civil libertarians like (William) Kunstler. In their place are AOC and her brigades of SJWs purveying hate-speech laws and attacking deniers of the “true climate religion”. First amendment rights have been replaced by cancel-culture indictments.”

Jordan B. Peterson, who recently resigned his tenured position at University of Toronto, describes the corporate submission: “What in the world is wrong with you? Can’t you see that the ideologues who push such appalling nonsense are driven by an agenda that is not only absolutely antithetical to your free-market enterprise, as such, but precisely targeted at the freedoms that made your success possible?

“Can’t you see that by going along, sheep-like (just as the professors are doing; just as the artists and writers are doing) that you are generating a veritable fifth column within your businesses? Are you really so blind, cowed and cowardly?”

While this corporate surrender has transpired, another schism has developed under cover of the Covid-19 pandemic panic. Its effect could be just as enduring. This one is based on age.

The group in society most vulnerable to the ravages of the pandemic is the 55+ cohort, the aging Boomers— the same one orchestrating the reaction to the virus. They are also the most afraid of its impact on them personally. It would be no exaggeration to say those health concerns have been reflected in the overbearing lockdown, mask, distancing and detention policies used against the virus. The generation that once worshipped free speech was quick to abandon civil liberties in its panic to save its own hide.

But younger generations who are far less vulnerable to the virus are tired of being participants in the psycho-dramas of aging the Boomers and their death phobia. And they’ve reached their end. They now flock to clubs, arenas and stadiums to see their friends. They know some of them will get sick, but 99.99 percent of them will be fine even if infected.

They are dismissive of the political shell game of their elders and the autocrats of Big Health. And, as we can see from one of the major sports, they’re headed in a new direction.

NHL players, God bless ‘em, have recognized that old people’s worries are not their worries. For months the league has gone with the Covid catechism to please politicians. Players were ordered to be vaccinated. Anyone testing positive from the wonky PCR test was sidelined. Even asymptomatic players. Games were played with undermanned rosters.

With 100 percent vaccinated, the league still saw 70 percent of players test positive. So the NHL now says “No more”. Only players who show symptoms will be removed from play. Excellent athletes are not 81-year-old U.S. senators shaking in their Depends.

With the accepted narrative now collapsing— Britain has abandoned the mask and lockdown mandates— more jurisdictions will do contrition for overshooting the mark. Dottering Joe Biden can talk about belatedly sending out 400 million masks, but he’s lost the room. Under 50s have moved on.

The only question is how long the ESG folks propping him up will wait before he’s sent overboard. While health is important, everything is second to their power.

Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy is the editor of Not The Public Broadcaster (http://www.notthepublicbroadcaster.com). The best-selling author was nominated for the BBN Business Book award of 2020 for Personal Account with Tony Comper. A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada’s top television sports broadcaster, he’s also a regular contributor to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. His new book with his son Evan Inexact Science: The Six Most Compelling Draft Years In NHL History is now available on http://brucedowbigginbooks.ca/book-personalaccount.aspx

Continue Reading

Trending

X