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Opinion: Grievance is an industry in Squamish

'Record numbers of aggrieved online and coffee house pundits allege public officials are consigning the upper reaches of Howe Sound to the swirling vortex of the porcelain goddess.'
Peter Dazeley/complain
Folks in Squamish have a long list of grievances, says columnist Helmut Manzl.

It is no secret that over the years, every municipal council has been called on to grow the Squamish business base.

And successive administrations have convinced countless entrepreneurs to set up shop here.

Amidst that flurry of commercial solicitation, the Squamish grievance sector is one of the fastest-growing industries.                                          

Record numbers of aggrieved online and coffee house pundits allege public officials are consigning the upper reaches of Howe Sound to the swirling vortex of the porcelain goddess.

In fact, several grievance purveyors figure we’ve already passed the flushing stage.

They claim the whole place is afloat in the municipal sewage lagoon, a source of pungent odours that have at certain times reportedly wafted over the adjacent neighbourhood.

For more context, let us envision a short sketch similar to the one described in the Bard’s magnum opus about a certain melancholy Danish prince who, before he met a tragic end, is best known for the classic

“To be or not to be, that is the question,” soliloquy. Imagine Marcellus, a palace guard, and Horatio, a friend of the despondent monarch-to-be, standing adjacent to the aforementioned wastewater treatment facility.

After assessing the situation, Marcellus glances at Horatio and then, with a contorted face, says, “Something is rotten in Squamish.”

Horatio replies, “Heaven will direct it.”                                                              

There appears to be an undercurrent of public ill-humour evident here, there and everywhere in this town. The list of grievances tossed in council’s direction is extensive and continually expanding.

It is a random collection of objections, some within our elected representatives purview, some considerably removed from their authority.

The inventory of flashpoints includes, but is not exclusive to, the following gripes: heartless landlords who ban their tenants’ four-legged, fur-bearing companions; newly arrived residents from the Lower Mainland recklessly importing incivility and bad attitudes to this former patch of paradise; the need for more bike paths; too many bike paths and not enough sidewalks; hastily cobbled together townhouse complexes, also referred to as row houses; the proliferation of high-density condo developments, cynically called chicken coops; public transit wait times longer than 20 minutes, or more recently, no public transit at all; unsightly doggie-doo-doo underfoot everywhere, either loose or bagged. And the list goes on.

Where it will end, nobody knows.

As with all disruptive undertakings, the mushrooming grievance sector has the potential to produce a ripple effect: it could give a significant boost to violin and harp sales and lead to community-sponsored safe spaces for those readily triggered by the effrontery besieging what was in a previous age known as the Shining Valley.

Faced with that baleful barrage of beefs, what should the members of council do? Set their hair on fire? Howl at the moon? Ask the staff at the Public Works Yard to construct seven wooden pillories so contrite councillors and the mayor can stoop side-by-side in front of muni hall?

Everything considered, that trio of visuals might just be a tad over-the-top. But then again, anything is possible when April 1st is just around the corner.

Helmut Manzl is a long-time Squamish resident and political columnist who writes for The Squamish Chief about issues related to muni hall twice per month.

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