You can tell it’s election season, because everybody is talking about apathy, asphalt and heritage.
Well, not everybody. In some quarters of St. John’s, they want to turn the city into Dubai-on-the-Atlantic, using oil riches to make a modern metropolis of glass and steel.
Go for it, I say. Submit to progress. One person’s quaint rowhouse is another person’s run-down shack. Erecting edifices to manna might shut up those moaning Newfoundland (and Labrador) nationalists who are so reliably boring, especially during elections.
A plebiscite always enlivens a municipal vote. In St. John’s, they could entice a lot more people to the polls if they had an additional ballot, asking something like, “Are you in favour of spending taxpayers’ money on the harbourfront fence?”
Since the fence is already up, if the “no” vote won, city council could go to the St. John’s Port Authority and beg for its money back. If the “yes” vote won, everyone could ponder the result in stunned surprise.
In Paradise, the town could attract attention by holding a plebiscite with the question, “Are you in favour of council’s continuing efforts to make Paradise the first truly treeless community in Canada (not including the Far North)?” Send in the bulldozers, and never mind whether the answer is yes or no.
In Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s, the town council actually decided to hold a plebiscite, before the plan was nixed by the Department of Municipal Affairs because only four councillors, rather than the required five, voted in favour of holding it. Laughably, the plebiscite was going to be about heritage.
You should be very, very, extremely suspicious when politicians talk about heritage.
For several summers in various areas of Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s, residents have had to put up with almost constant pounding of heavy machinery as portions of the rocky landscape are pulverized to make space for yet another house or subdivision.
Rather than adapting development to the landscape, the town council has allowed a significant amount of the landscape to be decimated to aid development.
Inexplicably, this has never prevented council members — past or present — from boasting about the “unique rural nature” of the town.
Unique, indeed. Hey, didn’t there used to be a pretty hillside there?
But I digress. Back to the kiboshed plebiscite: citizens of Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s were going to be asked whether they want to preserve the old St. Philip’s Anglican church.
You know the one. It’s been on postcards. Historically built in 1894; unceremoniously vandalized in 2010; unceasingly argued about ever since.
If they dynamite the thing, we’ll never have to hear about it again, which would be a relief. Perhaps then we could pay attention to all the rock pits around town that, in council’s estimation, are “development.”
On the other hand, demolishing the old church would give the Anglican diocese what it wants, and the diocese definitely does not deserve to get what it wants.
Consider the fact that no one has ever been charged with taking a chainsaw to the old church’s steeple and sending it plummeting to the ground.
Consider that no one has ever been charged because the police did not investigate the crime, despite the tears of angels.
Consider that the police did not investigate the crime because the Anglican diocese did not lodge a complaint about it.
Try to make sense of it: an act of vile vandalism makes headlines across the country, but the supposed “victim” doesn’t go to the police.
And yet, the diocese and the parish have the gall to argue that the old church is on hallowed ground. If it is so holy, they shouldn’t have been so blasé when it was desecrated.
Brian Jones is a desk editor at The Telegram. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org