Saturday, November 05, 2005

BACK AGAIN!

I am back in Montreal again after two weeks in Naniamo on on Vancouver Island. Great weather, mile upon mile of bike paths and so many people walking. You can buy fish right off the boat in the harbour. If you are in the old part of the city you can walk to just about everything you want. There is a whole street of book shops and music stores. Then there is the down side. Naniamo used to have a large and thriving coop, a cooperative shopping center, in fact. We went to visit it, finding to our despair that the Coop went bankrupt last year and is no more. The same happened in Campbell River, we were told. When the big box stores moved in, the Coop couldn't compete. Low wages and lousy working conditions won out over reasonable wages and working conditions. The loss of the Coop is a loss for the city as a whole, for lower wages mean less wealth to recycle through other businesses and Coop profits remained in the community instead of feeding a foreign corporation. (They do have a credit union system which seems more popular than the banks, however.)

Funny thing, the city can tell you in great detail how to build your house, yet there are no zoning regulations to protect the public against these monsters. Naniamo is a small city, yet all the big boxes are built on the far northern reaches of the city limits. Not only have they killed the Coop, but also gutted the down town core by draining the customers away from the city center and forcing people to drive ten miles to buy a bed or a wheel barrow. Fine for the auto and petroleum industries, but piss poor for a people who pride themselves on having environmental consciousness.

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