It was -16 but with the windchill, it felt like -25 but that didn't keep the two sex trade workers from their posts on 20th Avenue on Christmas night.
These are the women that residents in the Haldi Road neighbourhood agree should be saved, just somewhere else and not in their area and not in their former elementary school, with the proposed Northern Supportive Recovery Centre project. In fact, some of the these folks are so mad they want to separate from the City of Prince George
Notice it's "some" residents because it's unfair to tar the entire neighbourhood with the Not In My Backyard brush. There are residents in the area, some quite close to the former Haldi Road elementary school, in outright favour of the rehab centre, while others are simply neutral on the idea.
But back to the idea of separation. If voters and neighbourhoods were allowed to divorce themselves from government every time they disagreed with government, we'd all be living on our own individual rocks in the asteroid belt separating Earth from Mars.
But let's unpack that declaration with the seriousness with which it was likely intended.
For starters, there's a pretty big presumption being made that the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George would want to take Haldi Road under its governmental wing. Is that true? What's in it for the regional district? And if the regional district directors decided to approve the women's rehab centre, where would the Haldi Road residents want to go next?
Mayor Shari Green and three other city councillors are four of the 14 directors on the regional district board. Presuming the Prince George contingent votes as a bloc, the Haldi Road residents would need eight of the remaining 10 to support their inclusion, never mind blocking the rehab centre from going forward.
And what would a transfer to the regional district look like? The City of Prince George would be well within its rights, on behalf of all the other taxpayers in the city, to demand significant compensation from the regional district for the city services and development it has paid for in the area over the years. A similar fiscal question stops nationalist Quebeckers in the tracks - how much will you pay the rest of Canada for the right to take the roads, bridges, buildings and other infrastructure that other Canadians helped pay for?
This question points to the core of this matter. The neighbourhood opponents presume that because they live in the immediate area of the proposed rehab centre that their feelings on the matter are paramount over all others. That couldn't be more false. In reality, they count for the same as any other city taxpayer, regardless of where they live. Since this project is within city limits, all city voters are entitled to their views.
Put another way - if the rest of Canada east of Jasper wanted the Northern Gateway Pipeline to go through, wouldn't the prime minister and cabinet would be bound to listen to the majority of Canadians and approve the pipeline?
The argument has been made that mayor and council have overstepped their bounds on the rehab centre but that's hogwash. They were elected to do what's best, in their opinion, for all of Prince George. They have the unenviable task of often having to balance the desires of a neighbourhood against the overall needs of the city. Rejecting the concerns of area residents on this topic doesn't mean they didn't listen. It simply means that they put the interests of the city first, over the concerns of the immediate neighbourhood.
Democracy isn't perfect but it's the best we've got.
And in that democracy, Haldi Road residents, like the rest of us, are free to make their feelings fully known at the ballot box in November 2014.