I recently attended a conference in Vancouver and while I was there I kept thinking about what our leaders have been talking about with regard to wealth distribution in B.C.
For the first few days I felt like a fish out of water, as if I’d never been to a big city before. I was impressed by the noticeable wealth all around me, the opulent skyscrapers, the flawless sidewalks and the perfectly clean streets.
I went to New Westminster for the first time while I was there and I was equally astonished by how flawless everything looked. Every garden, every park and every corner was perfectly well maintained.
I had lunch at a park that I’m pretty sure nobody has ever heard of (expect perhaps the people who live in that area), and I couldn’t help but notice how spectacular it looked. I wondered how much money had been invested in that particular park, which is probably one of dozens in that area.
It almost felt unfair that this park in New Westminster was way more attractive than any sites I’ve seen up north (the ones maintained by municipalities).
Furthermore, during my 40-minute drive from Vancouver to New Westminster, I didn’t see any potholes anywhere. In fact, all the roads were impeccable.
Then I thought about Spirit Square, one of the only areas in Burns Lake that are meant to be an attraction for locals and visitors. I thought about all the effort that our village council has to put into that particular site; I thought about all the money that is required to make that site look attractive for the summer months; and I thought about all the work that our council and village staff have done – finding the best type of sand, trying to get rid of bird feces, installing security cameras – so that we can have this one well-maintained area in our downtown core.
I also thought about all the effort that our town has to make to maintain basic infrastructure such as replacing the Fifth Avenue water tower, or the ongoing attempts to repave Eighth Avenue. If small towns don’t have money to replace basic infrastructure, then it’s no surprise that making parks and beaches look more attractive isn’t a priority.
Meanwhile, most of the Lower Mainland looks impeccable. And travelling from northern B.C. to the Lower Mainland almost feels as if you’re travelling from a developing country to a developed nation.
This shouldn’t be the case considering that we live in the same province, and that the wealth produced in northern B.C. helps pay for the impeccable streets and parks of the Lower Mainland.
Something isn’t right here. So I stand with our local leaders who believe the provincial government needs to reassess how wealth is distributed in B.C.