LAUTENS: West Van denies it’s up Five Creeks without a paddle

The central question is: What effect will the Five Creeks project have on the five creeks?

And what will be the effect of the stormwater management system – a big catchment and a big three-meter pipe – on the gorgeous greenery and homes to die for, from the Upper Levels Highway to Burrard Inlet at 31st Street?

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Every West Vancouverite should read or re-read Tom Field’s May 22 letter to the editor of this paper. Field, who lives near one of the little five, Turner Creek, is an engineer with an international career in water management and flood control in Canada, the U.S. and Asia. His cautions can’t easily be dismissed. Town hall dismisses them.

Donna Powers, WV communications director, answered the question at the top of this screed: It can be “assured” that harm will come to the creeks and properties downstream of the Upper Levels if the project is not done.

Powers also denied – “a gross misrepresentation” – that the municipality is cosying up to gargantuan developer British Pacific Properties, which in 1931, in one of greatest real estate coups of all time, bought 4,000 acres of mountainside from West Vancouver for $75,000.

Seek other professional opinions, as Field advised? Powers named eight companies that designed and reviewed the project. “He (Field) also suggests other solutions would be better, but he does not go so far as to endorse one.”

That’s hardball. Over to you, Mr. Field? Oh, he’s already said that the “big pipe” solution is the last (i.e. worst) resort. And surely we can take town hall’s assurances to the bank?     

Opposition, with tree-protecting protesters Susan Bibbings and Brian Finnie courting arrest, has lacked the breadth of the anti-B-Line pushback under Nigel Malkin. What’s irrefutable is that Five Creeks will be one hell of a long, noisy construction job, already disrupting neighbourhoods and traffic, with fallen house prices predictable.

Work under way, “it’s like living in a war zone,” one resident complains. Says Hugh Hamilton, a retired forestry executive who no longer lives in the area: “Why they’ve taken the longer route down, I don’t know.”  

But the West Vancouver Streamkeeper Society approved the project in a letter to town hall over the signature of president John Barker, who asserted it would help protect the creeks and their fish. Some angry members demanded Barker’s resignation.

   • • •

“I was there for the first,” said Harry Greenwood, “and I’ll be there for the 75th.” He’s talking about the history-changing Normandy landing on June 6, 1944, and its 75th anniversary next Thursday. At 94, Greenwood muses about the next big D-Day commemoration in five years but makes no promises.

He’s had an immensely varied career, and in 2016 the West Vancouver Chamber of Commerce named him West Vancouver Citizen of the Year.

Greenwood actually came early to the Normandy assaults on well-entrenched German defenders. Five hours early. He was on a Royal Navy ship with the exhilarating assignment of sweeping the English Channel of the welcoming German mines.

   • • •

Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott, who lost powerful cabinet jobs while Liberal timeservers knuckled under to the SNC-Lavalin gospel according to Justin Trudeau, will run as independents in October’s federal election. And could win. Which is like winning a decently paid warm seat in a political no-woman’s-land, orphans of the party system.

But hold on. Story not over. They could be hotly wooed kingmakers in a seriously split Parliament, with the option of tilting the balance or joining whatever party they select.

Wilson-Raybould has expressed affection for the Greens and leader Elizabeth May. She hasn’t burned bridges with the Liberals either, praising their accomplishments. Sweet revenge if a needy Trudeau humbly came to Philpott and Wilson-Raybould, cap in conciliatory hand.

   • • •

I have longer thoughts than I have space for about Donald Trump’s pardon of Conrad Black – two egos that would fill the ballroom of the Palace of Versailles – and of the National Post’s disastrous self-wounding by publishing jubilation for Black’s triumph expressed by several of my otherwise most admired Post columnists. A relief that Christie Blatchford, my nomination for Canada’s best all-points national columnist (too close to call, really, over the Globe and Mail’s Margaret Wente), wasn’t among those who gave sycophancy a bad name.

Still, one has to be impressed by Conrad Black’s tireless search for truth and justice. For Conrad Black.

For years he’s vengefully slagged not only those involved in his conviction but the entire U.S. justice system, recently twice claiming that 97 per cent of those accused are convicted under the American “prosecutocracy.”

But unforgettable was a Black column that outed his atypical compassion in leading exhaustive efforts to rescue a trapped pussy cat.

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