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LAUTENS: A tale of one city and two interesting mayors

Breaking news, as they say in Radioland.

Breaking news, as they say in Radioland. Agent #6%3&8@ reports:

“Overseen today (Tuesday) at lunchtime in Carmelo’s, District of West Vancouver councillors (names redacted, as they say in documents governments don’t want you to see) deep in conversation over their respective plates with former West Van Mayor Mark Sager.

“As your favourite, Dr. Johnson, once rightly observed, ‘Supper lubricates business.’ What was the subject de jour, one wonders? Enquiring minds want to know.”

Agent #6%3&8@ is one of the most shrewd, wily and knowledgeable agents in my extensive stable of spies, which I lead under the nom-de-spy Kim Philby – I just made it up.

Coincidentally, lesser business intruding, I intended last weekend to contact the highly personable, handsome and popular former West Van mayor (1990-1996) about a surely preposterous rumour that he was mulling a return to politics. Possibly provincial or federal.

This second rumour triggered well-established journalistic arithmetic: 2 rumours = 1 take-it-to-the-bank fact. (Three rumours make the history books.) Would Sager kindly squelch it before it naughtily spread?

But Sager’s lunch with some councillors suggested another possibility: A triumphant reprise of his mayoral tour of duty?

Contacted, Sager didn’t precisely confirm nor emphatically deny. Said he didn’t want to lie to me – fairly rare in politics? He hesitated. “I don’t know that I’ve made a decision.”

But “very kind” people have approached him. “It’s humbling.”

He mused that with so many area mayors retiring, “the region is going to lack experience” – recalling that in mayoral days he was vice-chair of Metro. Also: “It’s tough when you’ve been mayor and you see things that could be done.”

“This is where my heart is,” he said of West Van – the literal truth. His father owned Sager Furniture and adjoining buildings in Dundarave, and as a newborn he was taken from hospital to the family living quarters over the store. (If you dine upstairs at Feast, you’re eating in his old bedroom.)

Under my usual ruthless questioning, Sager reflected that it’s “a kind time in my life.” He owns several businesses. He was ecstatic when soprano daughter Mikayla, living in New York, returned to perform at the Kay Meek last Sunday.

Mayor in his twenties, I asked how old he is now.

“Eighteen,” he chortled. Sure, and I’m 38. Oops, transposition.

If I’m scooped on this item – you read it here second.

• • •

“It’ll be a community of moaners, whiners and retirees that are happy with just no life.”

Read that again.

It may be current West Vancouver Mayor Michael Smith’s defining moment.

That’s how Smith described West Vancouver’s fate if council rejects Park Royal Shopping Centre’s application to build two towers on the former White Spot site at Marine Drive and Taylor Way, subject of a public hearing May 7.

Jeremy Shepherd reported in these pages April 11 that Smith’s moaners-whiners-retirees-no-life description “(prompted) a few in the audience to walk out before the conclusion of the nearly five-hour meeting.” In West Van terms, that’s an uprising.

Smith was quoted in Shepherd’s news story as making an appeal to West Van’s “silent majority” – possibly an ill-chosen phrase, coined as it was by the not universally popular Richard Nixon – to make themselves heard in favour of the Park Royal/Lalji family application for this development.

Inviting another take: “Be careful what you wish for.”

There seems no evidence that WV citizens have itched to storm town hall in support of this development that has gestated for nearly six years.

And perhaps for overwhelmingly good reasons, d’you think? Stirring up the silent might be less politically astute than Smith evidently imagines.

• • •

Stand well back for my brilliant Cole’s Notes solution to the Kinder Morgan pipeline debate.

(Declaration of interest. I own KM Canada stock. I bought it at $38.65. It closed Monday at $15.68. If anything, this invites a reverse bias – against it.)

It is simplicity itself. Premier John Horgan announces:

“Fellow British Columbians, the crisis is over. I have just taken steps to ... nationalize the pipeline! Or provincialize it, not to split hairs.

“British Columbia will buy Kinder Morgan’s interests ... (lowered voice) at 30 cents on the dollar, and lucky to get it. All British Columbians will reap the benefits. Jobs. Profits – invested in schools, hospitals, seniors, daycare, the opioid crisis. Paying for it, you ask? Borrow. Just add to the provincial debt. It’ll hardly be noticed.

“Under government ownership – which proves so successful for ICBC, BC Hydro, and BC Ferries – we pledge that the transportation of bitumen will be safer than if under control of Texans only looking at the bottom line. I see from the TV monitor that the protesters have already put down their principles – er, signs – and are cheering, weeping with joy.”

The only long faces? The lawyers.

• • •

We must believe that in some corner of the Elysian Fields there is an eternal blue sky and a frozen pond.

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