Opinion

Michaels: Don't waste time doing the PR, Rutland.

What’s the deal with Rutland?

Like a neurotic middle child, its representatives are perpetually trying to assert its value.  Case in point, this week’s launch of a new website celebrating the neighbourhood’s proud past and present.

Among other things, OurRutland.com, will contain stories about the history of the community, which is named for John Hope Rutland, an Australian who lived in the area in the late 1800s.

According to Tony Peyton, part of  The Rutland Unified Stakeholders Team, sharing this information is part of a plan to rejig the way people view the area. “The word ‘Rutland’ needs to be spoken with honour and respect,” he told city councillors Monday.

Another member of TRUST, Todd Sanderson echoed that sentiment. “People unfairly speak disparagingly of Rutland. The good people of Rutland have been left to take it on the chin.”

I can’t help but wonder, who cares?

I, for one, like Rutland just the way it is, regardless of the commentary about its seediness. It has an enjoyable mix of residential, agricultural, park and commercial space.

One of my Top 5 Kelowna restaurants is there. Seriously great dolmathes. Almost as good as my yaiya’s.

Some of the stories I’ve written about Rutlanders have been the kind that reaffirm my belief that the human race is not bee-lining for self-inflicted catastrophe. Top of mind was a lovely grandmother who had a fondness for so-called graffiti. She went out every day collecting signatures to preserve “the art” in the community park.

So  the food, the people and the place seem good, which is a recipe for making this community news reporter’s heart grow three times—like a post epiphany Grinch, not someone suffering a fatal condition.

But waxing on about what I like about the area doesn't even matter.

Presumably, thousands of other Kelowna residents like Rutland, too. After all, one third of the city’s population live there. They spend money there, they recreate there and they work there.

That’s what’s important.

Look at Surrey. Now that’s a city with a bad reputation—oh the jokes I could tell about Surrey girls. The vast majority of my childhood friends could also share some bon mots on the topic, but they won’t.  They either moved there when they had their own families, or they know someone who did.

Surrey was an affordable alternative to more expensive suburbs and relatively easy to drive to various workplaces across the Mainland.

My favourite past Surrey basher has a delightful little heritage home that she shares with her perfect little nuclear family. And she, along with the rest making Surrey one of the fastest growing cities in Canada, have gone a long way to make old stereotypes go flat.

So, while I am sure that teaching the community more about Rutland’s history can’t hurt anyone, I can’t help but think it’s also an exercise in futility, if not a bit insulting to those who have already recognized its merits.

What matters has nothing to do with the snide remarks and pithy punchlines. It  has everything to do with the actual people who, like I said, are pretty solid.

Nothing at all like neurotic middle children.

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