So I’m sitting in the Centre of the Universe — outside Delany’s at the corner of Edgemont and Highland Boulevard — on a sunny day, thinking about government.
Actually, I’m thinking about governments plural, because once you start counting, you realize there are a lot of them.
First, we have two North Vancouvers. I’m not sure why — most places are happy with one municipal government, but for some reason, we’re blessed with two.
Then there’s West Vancouver. I live on Capilano Road and share the lineup for the Lions Gate Bridge with the good drivers of West Vancouver. And, as West Vancouver is closer than the City of North Van, I find myself using your mall, your beach, your seawall, etc.
Of course, these are only junior jurisdictions. We need senior governments in Victoria and Ottawa, not to mention Metro, wherever that is. Metro is about to make my life interesting for the next year or so as it digs up Cap Road (recently paved by a junior jurisdiction) to replace the water main.
How many is that so far? Six? Well, there’s more. I cross the bridge every day to go to my office in Vancouver, which has its own government. And whenever I run or cycle in Stanley Park, I note its little government at work, apparently determined to transform the park into a goose farm, considering the enormous number of Canada Geese gleefully fouling the landscape.
And let’s not forget the Squamish Nation, which governs that blinding sign at the entrance to the bridge, among other things.
That’s eight, right?
Then there’s TransLink, which seems to be in charge of transit, although the other eight also have lots to say about it, except when it comes time to pay the bill.
That’s nine! This is getting depressing, or at least burdensome. Someone, for example, has to pay for all this governing and that someone is me … and you.
According to the Fraser Institute, that flinty guardian of the right, “government,” accounts for $44 out of every $100 that we earn. June 6 is Tax Freedom Day, the day we stop working for Richard Walton, Darrell Mussatto, Michael Smith, Christie Clark and Stephen Harper … and their vast minions.
So if it takes nearly half a year’s salary to keep these governments up and running, one wonders if we really need them all. Could we do with just eight? Or seven? Or, gasp, six?
If you’ve been following the debate over the potential amalgamation of the two North Vancouvers, which would get it down to a nice even eight, you’ll see the problem.
Take the dispute between the district and the city over shared policing. Please. They’ve been squabbling over the cost and the level of service ever since way back. The city says the district owes the city more than a million bucks for the RCMP while the district complains that it pays the lion’s share of the fees while the city gets the lion’s share of the services.
You can just imagine how well full amalgamation would go.
It doesn’t seem to matter that there’s only one Surrey government for more than half a million people, while the population of the entire North Shore is about 175,000 and counting.
Nope, we need three local governments, even though we have less than one-third the population.
Obviously, this is not Surrey. This is a special place.
For example, it contains within its borders the Centre of the Universe, the corner of Edgemont and Highland.
Come to think of it, maybe nine governments aren’t enough.
Journalist and communications consultant Paul Sullivan has been a North Van resident since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the rise of Madonna. He cn be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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