Hodge: Change is way better than the alternative

Long-cherished memories have to suffice for literal walks down memory lanes.

Charlie Hodge

Constant changes are here to stay.

I suppose that goes with the turf when one has substantially bypassed the half century mark, however I must admit I sometimes have a tough time in adapting to change. I want everything to stay the same yet get better.

Like many I am prone to warm memories of nostalgia when visiting old friends or familiar places. Part of me still resides on Vancouver Island where I spent the majority of my life between 1986 and 2000 as  a journalist or politician. While much of the western rock has remained relatively unscathed in population explosion (as witnessed in the Okanagan) there is no question that with the city of Victoria change is ongoing.

It was only upon my return home that I recognized the parallels between Victoria and my lifelong home town of Kelowna. As many readers are aware I was fortunate enough to spend the better part of last week in our provincial capital gaining knowledge, attending lectures, and hobnobbing with other municipal and provincial politicians at the Union of British Columbia Municipalities. Despite some criticisms the annual conference is a tremendous learning and networking event well worth attending. The fact that this year’s event was held in beautiful Victoria was simply a bonus. Not only is the royal city an attractive tourist location, it also plays home to our seat of government. It is hard for cabinet ministers and MLAs to hide in the town where they’re supposed to work.

I took advantage of both. Not only did I attend a plethora of forums and presentations but also engaged in discussions or lobbying with a number of Victoria based mucky-mucks. Only time will tell the potential spinoffs of such discussions.

However when not at work I made a point of playing tourist. Without question Victoria has always been a world-class, safe, and beautiful city to visit. With limited income and resources Victoria was often the epitome of holiday destinations for my family. Even as a child I recall wide-eyed adventures that culminated in crossing on the ferry and visiting our historic regional capital.

So I admit that Tez and I were a tad disappointed to learn that some of our planned recreational visits would not be possible due to ‘change.’ Our first reality check occurred when we were reminded that the famous wax museum no longer exists. One of my favourite attractions, the wax museum boasted numerous life-size sculptures of famous people including childhood heroes and household names.

Part of the draw to the wax museum was that it was once located right next to Victoria’s Undersea Gardens, another fascinating facility for both young and old. Sadly the tide is gone for the undersea garden — now replaced by a coffee shop.

Undaunted I had planned to briefly whisk Teresa away to the exclusive neighbourhood of Oak Bay to both the Christmas Store (never mind it is only October) and then the always enjoyable and delectable visit to The Blithering. The latter a popular and decadent teahouse famous for pastries and chocolate.

Alas a lack of research or knowledge resulted in our disappointment — albeit a money-saving one — as again both destinations had long ago closed their doors. (The only one who is crazier about Christmas than moi is Teresa. Same can be said for the Hodge household chocolate addiction).

Thankfully an early evening visit  to the Provincial Museum and tour of the Ice Age Woolly Mammoth display proved fascinating and fulfilling and probably worth the trip alone from a tourist perspective.

A homebody by nature, I admit that it only takes me a few days away to miss my own bed, yard, and loving pets and so by the time the conference was over I was more than happy to hit the road for the drive home. Further adventures up the island were put on hold until another journey.

That decision was wiser than first realized as a lengthy wait for the ferry trip precluded battling the horrendous traffic snarl of Vancouver.

As Tez and I made the trek home over the amazing Coquihalla we once again marveled at the ruggedness and beauty of our diverse gigantic province. The closer to home we travelled the more appreciative I was of what we have here. However, the reality of change and the alterations that time has upon our lives seemed to magnify the closer we got. The bottleneck traffic concerns between the Hwy 97C Connector outside West Kelowna and downtown Kelowna once again reminded me of the pitfalls of a population explosion and a spoiled lifestyle where every car seems to contain a single occupant.

I began to tally the loss of tourist-like facilities in our area that have come and gone since my childhood. Victoria residents visiting Kelowna after an extended absence may well ponder whatever happened to Old McDonald’s Farm, the infamous Waterslide on the Westside, the Grass Shack, Flintstones Bedrock City… The list goes on.

That’s when I grinned in recognition that few of us really like change — yet no matter who we are or where we live, change is reality. Like the seasons of the year, or the emergence of a butterfly from a cocoon, sooner or later it is a reality.

Often change is difficult, and often it is not even understood or popular, but it is.

More important is how we deal with it, how we adapt — or don’t.

One thing is guaranteed for everyone — as long as your life continues, as long as you breath, constant change is here to stay. I’m quite happy to embrace change — it beats the alternative.