SULLIVAN: My predictions for 2019? Traffic down, prices up

I’m sure I speak for many who are glad to see the rear end of 2018 waddling out of the frame. But will 2019 be any better?

Here on the North Shore, where things remain relatively rosy, the answer is a resounding maybe.

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Which sets up my not-so-fearless predictions for the year to come. If we’re all still around on Jan. 1, 2020, we can check back on this column and laugh or cry. Or both. I’ve limited them to the Top 5, which allows me to edit out some of the murkier ones like the fate of the Harry Jerome Community Centre. I have no idea what’s going to happen with that one. Unfortunately, after years of debate and discussion, neither does the City of North Vancouver council.

Here goes:

1. Traffic will get better. How can you say that, Paul? Developments already in the pipeline will spawn more cars, and TransLink wants to run its big ugly articulated B-Line buses through already congested Marine Drive. Well, I’m putting a lot of hope into the Mountain Highway interchange project, which should finally be done in June. Of course, the whole project won’t complete until at least 2021, but the first improvements in flow will come with the new Mountain Highway interchange. When the entire project is finished, it will mean a 20 to 35 per cent reduction in traffic lining up for the Second Narrows. Or so they say.

2. Housing on the North Shore won’t get more affordable. Don’t believe any of that stuff you hear about a housing bubble bursting. The fundamentals still apply, as time goes by. This community, tucked into the entrance of one of the world’s remaining wildernesses, defines location, location, location. Demand will continue to grow, even after the slight decline forecast in 2019. And with the October election of a slow growth council in the District of North Vancouver, don’t hold your breath waiting for affordable housing to get built. Maybe in 2020 ... 2021 ... or whenever.

3. Speaking of wilderness, North Shore Rescue will get government funding. It better. Right now, this dedicated body of volunteers is the only thing preventing more mayhem on the mountains. Just the other day, at the darkest time of the year, the team rescued a family who went for a hike to Whyte Lake and didn’t take a flashlight. You can’t make this stuff up. The problem is that actual rugged wilderness is conveniently accessible to the imprudent, who may be terminally oblivious but somehow know they’ll get bailed out by North Shore Rescue. What, me worry? Well I do. I worry that one of these days, team members are going to get tired of working for nothing, and when the call comes, will feel the collective urge to wash their hair.

4. Pot is legal? Well, sort of. Oct. 17, 2018 was a mile, er, stone day in the history of getting high, as recreational marijuana was legalized in Canada. That’s if you can go to the store and buy it. If you don’t want to buy your bud from the government online, tough. Until very recently, there was exactly one place in North Van where you could buy it – and that place was operating illegally, now closed by civic order. You can blame all three levels of government for this failure to launch: Ottawa for putting the provinces in charge of distribution, the province for putting store locations into the hands of municipalities, and municipalities for restricting the establishment of pot dispensaries. Right now, only the City of North Vancouver has a plan allowing for six stores; the other two don’t allow pot retail here.

5. No Trans Mountain pipeline in 2019. I feel fairly confident about this prediction, even though the federal government bought the stupid thing … I guess because some other sucker already bought the Brooklyn Bridge. And the campaign by the Alberta government to convince us that the way to wean ourselves off fossil fuels is to put a pipeline carrying the most hazardous variety right into our own backyard is unintentionally hilarious. The plain and simple fact is that no one at this end wants it. That includes the municipalities, the First Nations, the residents, and oh, the Federal Court of Appeal. So, even if the project does clear yet another mandated environmental assessment, locals – that’s you – will remain unconvinced.

Happy new year! Not a prediction, but a wish for you and your families. Thanks for reading!

Journalist and communications consultant Paul Sullivan has been a North Vancouver resident since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the rise of Madonna.

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