Opinion

Boomers: Only a park in my backyard—nothing else

Any time a baby boomer refers to the “greater good,” my eyebrow involuntarily rises.

Boomers, as we’re all aware, belong to the demographic bulge that got fat on the land, sucked resources dry and consistently showed little regard for damage they wrought, unless it directly impacted their profits. When things got dicey, they’d get political, argue for positive change from their 7,000 square foot home for two, and expect to be applauded.

War-babies’ indiscretions ensured that everyone who followed—aka Generation Screwed—grew up on a healthy serving of fear of everything from holes in the ozone layer to a dotage marked by non-existent pensions.

Dwelling on this particular subject is enough to drive a person barmy, should they give it much heed, so it’s best ignored.

Unfortunately, occasions to indulge in boomer-related frustration do come to the fore, as was the case Tuesday.

A Kelowna Advisory Planning Commission meeting scheduled to hash out community opinion on a mixed use development proposed for the Cedar Avenue and Abbott Street area filled the seats with as lobbyists for more greenspace.

“What about our children’s children?” said one concerned citizen, who lived adjacent to a chunk of land the city wants to turn into a linear park, augmented by a four-storey building.

“Families should have the right to play in the park. We shouldn’t give up our parkland,” pleaded another, who wasn’t interested in the idea that a boardwalk augmented with coffee shops and restaurants would keep people flowing.

They were convincing. Arguments to keep park space do resonate, which was evident from all the clapping and cheering that erupted when its protectors took the microphone.

Who wants to see paradise turned into a parking lot? Joni Mitchell explicitly laid out why it was wrong in her very hummable manner, and some time after the concrete thoroughfare dividing Kelowna was built, everyone else got on board.

Problem is, it doesn’t sound quite right when it’s coming from nearby homeowners and developers faced with a choice between a four-storey building and unfettered view of the lake. It actually comes off as downright shifty.

What would have been better, in my humble opinion, is some honesty.

How about a: “Meh, who cares about everyone else, I want my own park!” Or a little: “How will this impact my real estate value?” Best yet: “Where will Fido run, once the park is finished and bylaw officers start poking around?”

Perhaps I’m too jaded.

Maybe these property owners do care about the greater good, and when their time comes they’ll prove it by what they do with their waterfront and water-adjacent homes. Perhaps the whole block will be willed to the city with the proviso that it can only be used for greenspace.

That will give everyone’s eyebrows a nice break as they finally put their money where their mouth is.

Kathy Michaels is a staff reporter for the Kelowna Capital News.

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