Blanket generalizations won't cut it

Nathan Giede is a talented writer. I enjoy his style, his turns of phrase, and the extent of knowledge that he packs into regular columns inTthe Citizen. When I'm reading a connoisseur of the English language like Mr. Giede, it's like savouring a delicious mint chocolate wafer at the end of a good meal. But just like the poor diner in a Monty Python movie, Mr. Giede's wafers of opinion, when ingested carelessly will bring on disastrous results in gut and body.

In Wednesday's paper, for example, he talked about how valuable the alternate approval process is, couching his argument as a lesson to city hall to be more prudent with taxpayers' money. It's an alluring approach because, if his opinions held true, it would imply that council was at best cavalier in its spending of public money, or at worst, had conspired to cover up a serious problem during the last election.

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THERE ARE MASSIVE INFRASTRUCTURE CRISES IN CANADIAN MUNICIPALITIES.

Mr. Giede is likely aware that local government has been shouting this in all caps for the last decade. He may not know that it was addressed by every single candidate, successful or unsuccessful, during the last election. I don't remember seeing him at any all-candidates meetings, so he just may not know how much this serious issue was discussed. I'm unsure why he claimed it wasn't addressed in the election.

That all caps sentence above has been repeated so many times that many, Mr. Giede included, may not even think about it. Even mile-high graffiti gets noticed less and less when you walk past it the 100th time. There's no surprise about it. The job of city staff is not to magically conjure $400 million to immediately end the crisis; their jobs is to recommend priorities out of our now-permanent infrastructure needs so that the council of the day can find ways to pay for what we can, borrow for what we need and delay the rest.

While the last council was able to find a path through the infrastructure maelstrom that didn't hurt too badly last term, no one pretends that the storm has dissipated.

Back to the main argument. Mr. Giede tries to influence his readers to vote wholesale against lending for 11 different items, but I suspect he hasn't done his homework. Take the Mausoleum Expansion Phase II proposal as just one example. That loan bylaw is like co-signing a loan for families of the deceased. Prince George doesn't have enough niches left for the ashes of loved ones, so this expansion needs to be built. The cost is going to be covered by the people who pay for a niche for their loved one. We need to build it now, and the cost is covered by those who need it. If readers follow his advice and vote down that loan, how does Mr. Giede propose we pay for the mausoleum? He's conveniently silent on that. I'll tell you this: we're not going to tell families to hold the ashes of their loved one at home until enough of their money gets saved up for the next two decades to finance a new mausoleum!

Either Mr. Giede was negligent and simply did not read what he's advocating people to vote against, or he did read it, and wants to simply cancel that mausoleum expansion and offer no other solution for the families of the deceased.

That's irresponsible advice.

I still enjoy the way he writes, but what he conveyed Wednesday was wrong, and demonstrated either a negligence or malice that shouldn't be allowed to stand unchallenged. Great style doesn't make up for bad substance.

-- Coun. Garth Frizzell

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