Sunday, July 15, 2007

Dodi Morrison: City misusing its resources

The following appeared in the July 15, 2007, edition of the Western News:

Recently Mayor Kimberley wrote a letter to the editor explaining how prohibitively expensive it would be to retain the auditorium and gymnasium. I’m sure he hoped this would convince us of the immediate necessity of contributing to a new concert hall (on land donated by the city I am told.)

Of course an equally convincing letter could have been written if he had wanted to defend not taking those buildings down. He mentioned that although our taxes would go up for keeping those buildings, we need fear nothing as the new concert hall would be built with money taken from “reserves.”

“Reserves?” Did anyone know about these? Where were they when we begged for affordable housing? Where was the land now so available — I’m told — for the concert hall? Offers made regarding low-cost housing were turned down. I am reminded of the old story of Marie Antionette when told that the people had no bread —”Let them eat cake!” she replied.

Not long ago a short article in the local paper told of the city of Trail’s dilemna. Apparently there is a lack of affordable housing in both Trail and Rossland. So much so that the nearby ski resort of Red Mountain was having great difficulty finding people to clean its rooms. I wonder where all the new occupants of the condos going up around us will find a cleaning lady? And that is just one of the town’s many services that will be needed by those seniors.

But back to those two buildings. How many people realize that the new school will have no auditorium? Only an activity room, with bleachers. I know from a friend in another such school in another city how frustrating that can be — and how much confusion is caused whenever an event takes place. Our present auditorium has been well used by our gifted music teachers — not only the one at Pen High but other schools’ too. And with some cosmetic repairs it could last for another 50 years. The main part is still solid. Just the stage area needs replacing, and rooms added for dressing rooms, toilets and a hall. The concert hall in Metaline Falls is part of a school far older, which was revived and made into a cultural centre. The Falls is a tiny town (just across the border from Yak) but we met people there from Colville and Spokane at one of its good concerts. “All this talk of nostalgia and sentiment is insulting!” one long- time concert goer said to me.

Well, the mayors have spoken — and it was quite an announcement. Let’s hope they will now bully the necessary people, give us the leadership we crave and get things going.

It can’t be too soon for me — I have learned a whole other vocabulary I never expect to use — cuss words completely new to me! Masses of people really think council has lost its head over this.

And no doubt we’ll get the lovely new concert hall in about 10 years’ time anyway. By then we will need both halls. But meanwhile wouldn’t it be nice if we pulled together for once and saved a whole lot of great events? As for more parking — when what we need is to get more cars off the road — that’s insane. The school board and teachers should start getting kids to walk. Bribe them — have a competition — offer big rewards — whatever it takes. The traffic is appalling and the last thing we need to do is encourage it to get worse.

I wonder how many know that when Jeff Hyslop performed here he made an impassioned plea for the auditorium? Even though he is now in New York, he knew its value.

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