Tag Archives: rant

Canada Post’s Delivery Solution

Well there we were, a few days before Christmas and lo and behold, in our mailbox was the following letter from Canada Post detailing the solution they had arrived at after looking at Gatensbury Road’s safety issues.

There is more information about this in previous posts on this blog to get up to speed on this issue.

Dec23 Canada Post letter

At first glance, it looks like our mail problems have been satisfactorily solved.  What you don’t see in this letter, is that they never once consulted with any of us street residents.  They just came up with a solution independent of the people it actually affects.

Is that the way we do things in Canada?!  I’d like to think not.

How does this affect us?  For starters, we keep referring to one of our home owners who is in her 90’s.  Now she has to figure out how to get down to the bottom of the hill to get her mail and then get back up again.  Of course, many of us will volunteer to help her out but that’s not a real solution for her or the other residents on the hill.

Let’s be realistic here; am I going to drive my car a few hundred metres down the hill to get my mail?  Of course not!  When I do happen to drive down on another errand I can pick it up on my return but that’s kind of inconvenient. Mostly I’ll walk down and get it and walk back up again.

But wait a minute…..Our street isn’t safe to walk up and down!  And so the conundrum continues.

We could accept some kind of solution like this as a stop gap measure but what we really need is to sit down and work with all the parties involved to make our street safer so mail can be delivered safely.  But it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen in the immediate future.

And can you remember anytime Canada Post actually met with the people it serves to ask them how to best accommodate their needs?  No time that I know of, anyway.

Oh, and what about the security of these so called “super mailboxes”? The CBC gave a report from 2 years ago that outlined just how secure they really aren’t.  There’s a great interactive map detailing thefts from all over British Columbia in that report.  Another one from Abbotsford about repeated break-ins at a cluster of mailboxes.  It seems break-ins and thefts are particularly common at tax time.  Identity theft and all that.

So what should we do about this?  Not just sit back and say “OK, looks like you’ve solved our mail problem” because they haven’t. I’m going to be very upset if a parcel or amil was delivered to my box and then stolen because I was at the office working when it was delivered and couldn’t get to it before the thieves.

On the positive side, they do seem to have solved their employee safety issue and for that, I DO commend them.  Employee safety is an ongoing and important concern that always needs to be revisited.  The last thing we want is a mail carrier to be hit by a moving vehicle while performing their job in our’s or any other neighborhood.

Now they just need to take a few more steps and consult with not only their employees and their experts, but with the residents, too.

Is that too much to ask?

Letter to the Mayor and Council of Port Moody

Where’s my Mail?

Dear Mayor and Council.

I wanted to take a moment to inform you of recent events regarding mail delivery in our neighbourhood. For reasons unknown to us, our street – the 1000 block of Gatensbury Rd – has recently been deemed “a danger to deliver mail” zone. We received no advance warning, not even a note from Canada Post telling us about this decision and why it was made. We just noticed that our mail hadn’t been delivered for over a week and wondered why? We called Canada Post, we emailed them, we filled out online tickets about the problem and no one was able to even tell us about the decision. They all knew nothing. It wasn’t until one of our residents went down to the Post Office to see what the problem might be that they told him of this decision.

People have been living on this street for over 30 years and never heard of such a thing. We have senior citizens in their 90s who have been getting mail continuously all this time and who don’t have the ability to just truck on down to the post office in Port Coquitlam, where we now have to go to get our mail ourselves. And the Post office is only open 9-5 on weekdays so getting it is a major problem for people who work normal jobs.

We want to know how or why this decision was made so suddenly and whether the city of Port Moody is willing to address this problem with us? For years, residents on this hill have been asking for a proper sidewalk so that they weren’t constantly exposed to cars speeding up and down the hill as they walked along the side of the road. In our minds, there is a serious accident here just waiting to happen to some cyclist or pedestrian. And now, the Post Office has deemed us a danger zone, apparently because they have decided there is no place for their carriers to safely walk while delivering mail.

What we have been told is that the costs could only be expended if our taxes were raised to pay for it, and we’re talking millions of dollars! How many other city residents have had to pay to have the city put in a sidewalk on their street? In fact, there is a sidewalk which goes part way up the hill on the East side of the street and then it just stops. For no apparent reason.

We also noticed that almost all the other roads in our neighbourhood at the bottom of the hill were repaved this past spring and summer and we thought, finally, Gatensbury Rd will get the kind of attention it desperately needs. But again, no, the repaving stopped right where Gatensbury Rd starts.

And in just a few more months time, the Evergreen Line, will be operating, with a station at the bottom of our hill on Clarke St. The traffic is already bad on this hill, which was never designed for this volume. What is going to happen when people start using the sky train – driving or walking to and from it?

We ask that council start seriously thinking about our street and possible solutions to the many problems it faces now and will continue to face in the future.

Thank you for your time and attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Rich Sobel

Gatensbury, Rd, Port Moody, BC

What Should I write? Should I write? I Should write! Write, I should!

Every now and then, I find myself getting annoyed about a certain word.  Recently, it’s been the word, should.

You’ve probably all heard the phrase “stop shoulding all over me”!

And that’s the sense in which I was taking it; that I should be doing stuff – whatever that stuff happened to be – and if I didn’t, then I was bad and wrong.  And that’s one way it’s commonly used.  To make someone, even if that happens to be yourself, wrong about not doing something.

I should get more exercise.  I should get to bed earlier. You should eat less cookies. You should go on a diet…..should should should.  

This is not a positive way to go about things!  Should I be using should here? That’s one part of the question.  The other part is wondering what should really means based on how it came to be. So when should should be used?

When I start feeling that way about a word, I also get a nagging feeling that maybe as a society we have inadvertently started to misuse it, by adding extra meaning that wasn’t originally associated with that word.

So I  looked into how the word should came to be and here’s what I found in Wiktionary.

It is derived from the Old English word sceolde, a preterite form of sculan. Ok, now there’s 3 words I don’t know anything about: sceolde, preterite, and sculan.  Be patient, it will get clearer, I promise.

Working bass akwards, sculan has origins in Proto-Germanic (skulana) and Proto-Indo-European (skel) and both mean “to owe” or “must, should, shall”. The transitive verb form is the “to owe” and the auxiliary verb is the “shall/should/must” form.  Just to remind us (because I forgot too!), transitive verbs are those that require one or more objects (I kick the ball) but stand alone and auxiliary verbs need other verbs (I shall go to the dance).

Preterite is simple.  Just means belonging wholly to the past.  Sceolde is not used anymore.  It belongs in the past.  So we’ll forget about sceolde for now, although I’m sure that would be an interesting ramble for another time.

Getting back to sculan, there are 3 different senses in which it is used.  The transitive one in which it is purely to owe something to someone.  Could be money, could be a favour, whatever.  The second sense is to be obliged to.  This is a bit more subtle than a simple owing.  This has a must or should flavour to it.  I have to pee, I must find a toilet!  She called me twice yesterday, I really should call her back.  The third sense is the to be going (or about) to do something.  I think I shall call her back.  I shall do my laundry right after I finish this cup of coffee.

And this is where the  guilt and bad connotations arise; using the “obliging” second sense when the “gonna do” third is really where you want to come from.   And vice versa.  I think the problem comes in when we confuse a true obligation with a simple desire.  You’d like to lose 20 pounds and to do that you probably need to increase your activity and decrease or alter your food intake. So you tell yourself “I should lose 20 pounds”.

But you have no obligation to do that! You are not obliged to lose 20 pounds.  You are not obliged to go on a diet.  You’re not obliged to increase your level of exercise.  You may have a strong desire to do this but you may never actually manifest that desire by acting upon it. Unless……and this is a big one, you feel obliged to yourself, or another loved person to do this for. And then you actually act upon that desire or obligation.

(Desire is another ramble for another time.  Humans have been working on that one for as long as we can remember and no one has yet figured it out completely!  So let’s not go there right now, other than to acknowledge that it’s a part of the picture.)

An example of how we might thoughtlessly use should: You think to yourself, I worked really hard this week, I owe it to myself to go out for dinner and see a movie.  In which case you can say, “I worked really hard this week.  I should take myself out for dinner and a movie”.  But to my mind, even better – you can also say “I shall take myself out to dinner and a movie”.  And actually, using shall is way more positive because now you have committed to doing this for yourself, whereas the “should take myself out” has a little bit of uncertainty still attached to it.  As if you feel you owe it to yourself, but you’re not actually going to give yourself that reward.  And bingo, we’re into the guilt trip.  We should have done it but we didn’t!

And let’s be perfectly clear, guilt is a great motivator!  Jewish mothers and grandmothers – mine included –  have capitalized on this for centuries!  It’s such a small piece of pie left, you should eat it so I don’t have to throw it away!  Or “What? I should make your bed?!  Who slept in it!!??”  and so on.

It’s kinda sneaky that way.  Before you know what happened, you shoulded on yourself. Drat!

How can we stop doing that? Well maybe it’s such an ingrained habit we can’t. But I like to believe that we can change, and especially when it’s for the better.

What I recommend is every time you use or are about to use the word should, step back for a second and think whether you’re talking about a must do, an obligation, an owing, or an act that you’re going to or about to do.

Just take a bit more care when using this one.  Be a little  kinder to yourself and others. Think of it as a random act of kindness. I know I shall.

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Rich

 

Why are Vancouver’s Watersheds closed to hiking?

Ok, this is my first “rant”.  I can’t see any reason why hikers are not allowed into the watersheds in BC.  What does the government actually hope to accomplish by this?  It’s a long-standing policy that to my way of seeing, really doesn’t accomplish what it proclaims to do, namely protect the water from mischief and contamination.

Let’s say they wanted to protect it from contamination.  Sounds good, I don’t want to drink contaminated water.  But can a group of hikers really contaminate something like a watershed?  Let’s consider all the other animals likely to reside there: racoons, snakes, mice, voles, bears, cougars, deer, moose, coyotes, squirrels, birds, reptiles, etc.  Guess what, they all poop in the watershed! And they pee in there, too.  OMG!  No wonder so many people buy bottled water.  Of course, that’s another rant I’ll get to in the future – bottled water!!

Ok, so I go into the watershed with a group of hikers, say 15 (I never hike with that many people but just for argument), and we all poop in the woods and pee there, too.  If we’re like most hikers, we’re looking for places where we won’t be seen when we do our business- which usually means hidden behind some tree.  We dig a hole or scrape aside the ground cover, do what we have to, and then scrape the ground cover back into place to hide what we just did and nature takes care of the rest.  The chances of contaminating the reservoir/watershed is very remote.

But in Vancouver, BC, for instance, you might say that we’re a big city and the pressure would be too heavy.  Ok, how about a really BIG city like New York City.  Ashokan Reservoir is one of the main supplies of drinking water for the residents of New York City.  Here’s what they do to protect their watershed:

Ashokan Reservoir:
Its two long walkways provide a panorama of the Catskill Mtns and the pristine Reservoir that serves as the drinking water for NYC.  Great for bicycles, walkers and wheelchairs, the two paths are beautiful stretches of wide paved paths that curve for 3 miles along the Ashokan Reservoir.

Image

HUH!!! They actually let people bike and walk along their reservoir.  And the people still drink the water?!  How……?  Well, there are signs restricting direct access as you can see in the photo above.

Ok, must be a fluke.  How about London, England?

Most of London’s water still comes from the River Thames and River Lea, with the remainder being abstracted from underground sources.

river-thames-picture

Hmmm, doesn’t seem to be any limit to access the Thames River either!  They filter their water so recreational and industrial use doesn’t seem to be a problem.  Their tap water has been declared safe and quite drinkable.

I could come up with many other examples, globally and in our own country.

Ok, what about logging in our watersheds?  That might certainly contaminate our water!  It took a bit of time – almost 80 years since the establishment of the Greater Vancouver Water District in 1924 – until logging in the watershed was finally banned in 2002.

On Friday, February 8, 2002, members of the GVRD’s Water Committee unanimously passed a recommendation for the GVRD Board to cancel the Amending Indenture, the 1967 logging license agreement with the provincial government.

Well, that’s a relief!  People have been denied access since 1926 but logging companies were allowed to put in 100s of kilometres of roads and cut down old-growth forest which destabilized the slopes above our reservoirs but you couldn’t hike in there!!

Why?  Hikers and other recreation activities were denied because the Water District Committee felt their no trespassing policy “wisely prevented the public from creating mischief and contaminating the water supply”.  I think the general public would have been much more responsible towards their drinking water than the logging companies were.  And our continued presence might have been a force for preventing the abuses those companies committed!

What it boils down to for me is that our local government just doesn’t trust it’s own citizens to do the right thing.  Very few other places in the world have this kind of complete “no access” restriction to their watershed and for good reason; they trust their people to behave properly.  What a concept, trust of citizens to behave in a socially responsible way.

I think British Columbians deserve no less.  There are heritage trails in the watershed which should be reopened and trusting people by giving them access is the best way I know of to create a more socially responsible citizenry than putting in policies that promote ill will and mistrust.

Curious to hear what you have to say,

Rich