MY spectacular streak of correctly predicting B.C. election results having been snapped at one, what excuses do I have? First, I overlooked that Premier Christy Clark was running not in Metro Vancouver under cynical media eyes, but to get a legislature seat in a bleak desert where wine-sodden voters snooze poolside under the brain-cooking sun. Not a milieu that lends itself to rigorous thought.
Aw, just checking the fine residents of Westside-Kelowna for their sense of humour.
Not kidding so much: Factor in the appeal to Okanagan vanity - the opportunity to boast yet a third premier in B.C. history - and, proof that their heads are stuffed with smarts after all, their shrewd grasp that a legislator who also happens to be the all-powerful premier can bestow goodies on the local populace. Promise me a bridge and I'll follow you anywhere.
And now, not joking at all: Even a zealous supporter of Ralph Sultan privately murmured that if the West Vancouver-Capilano MLA had sacrificially bowed to let Clark run in his equally bank-safe Liberal riding conveniently near her actual Vancouver residence, her constituents - and the whole North Shore - might have received tangible evidence of her gratitude.
Such as: Revived pressure for a third crossing (some distant day)? Political muscle to improve the beloved Blue
Bus service that TransLink short-changes with arrogant indifference? Maybe a quiet word to municipal councils to co-operate more in costcutting, especially concerning policing and firehalls? That said, there's no discounting Clark's huge Westside-Kelowna victory: 62 per cent of votes cast. But how could I have overlooked the chief factor that I wove into my prediction of a Liberal win in May? Which is: Clark's beaming, bubbly optimism.
I don't expect Clark will really balance the budget and vanquish B.C. debt, or put well-paying jobs in every household. Adrian Dix is much brainier. So are top members of her caucus (and they resentfully know it). But a Viennese saying quoted long ago by journalist Robert Fulford comes to mind: An illusion that makes you happy is better than a truth that makes you sad. Optimism may be an illusion, but it's a better political sell than dry policy.
Big differences of style and substance aside, another Kelowna premier, mocked by
the Opposition, media and sub-intellectuals as a blowhard and buffoon, had a similar gift for reaching out to hopeful hearts, not analytical minds. W.A.C. Bennett, of course.
Park Royal Shopping Centre will make a major announcement in three or four weeks - more reshaping of the mall that is alienating some customers with its seemingly nonstop construction, dust and confusing access and internal roadways.
The west end of the "old" south mall will be transformed by 2016, starting early next year. A predictably (I stand foursquare behind this prediction) glittering new store, possibly with a fashion theme, on the elderly Extra Foods site will anchor the area.
Wait for it, wait for it, a public announcement will be made probably in three or four weeks. Negotiations are still under way, Park Royal vice-president Rick Amantea told me, and there are "some competitive reasons why we have to keep things closer to our vest."
All tenants west of the small salad bar will be gone, offered space elsewhere in the centre. Some have chosen not to relocate. A big hole was left by the abrupt closure on June 30 of Peter Black & Sons, the butcher, a 30-year tenant. Nearby, the lively British Newsagent departed in February for Edgemont Village, leaving a boarded-up dead spot.
One tenant's employee said it's rumoured that Extra Foods - last refuge of the $1 crunchy French loaf, a staple of the undersigned's diet - will move to new space in the north mall.
Loblaws-owned Extra Foods has its loyal customers and its share of attractive specials, and especially President's Choice brands (like its yummy giant chocolate bar). But there's little disputing that it's your grandmother's grocery store in terms of the clever display and customer-wooing that Marine Drive's Fresh St.
Market recently brought to the North Shore's highly competitive grocery scene.
Amantea, a well-respected, up-front gent, acknowledges that some customers are put off by Park Royal's relentless growth. "We know that the level of work we've done here causes inconvenience but in three years we'll have the best retail environment we can create. To not do it is not an option."
Amantea expresses strong support for nearby Ambleside Village's rejuvenation, which he sees benefitting area business generally and therefore good for all, including Park Royal. "We're competing to get great retailers, so our competition is with the Oakridges, Pacific Centres and Metrotowns of the world."
The only thing faintly competing in stupidity with the well-funded drive to legalize marijuana is the proposal for allowing strong drink on beaches and streets.
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