Michaels: TaxPayersFirst lining up to be hoisted by their own petard

"This city may have a couple of socially constructed barriers, but moats seem too tall an order for even our dreamiest residents..."

There are a few old-timey expressions I really dig.

“Hoisted by one’s own petard” is one of them, and it’s been running through my head since the five people who form TaxPayersFirst unveiled a series of pictures from San Antonio, Texas, and pitched their plan to recreate that city’s reality on our fair shores.

Gorgeous photos, by the way. I wouldn’t mind strolling down city walkways fronting romantic canals. But, here? In Kelowna, B.C., Canada? Now?

This city may have a couple of socially constructed barriers, but moats on which we could float—or as the five tax freezers pointed out Monday, skate down if winter’s chill allowed—seem too tall an order for even our most daydream addled residents.

Without any understanding of urban planning, I’d venture to guess the idea would be impossible to implement.

Just digging up Bernard Avenue, widening its sidewalks and installing new street furniture cost somewhere in the area of $14 million.

The behemoth cost of digging up city streets around the cultural district and building canals would likely dwarf Olympic infrastructure costs from…name your Olympics.

Financing, however, is really a far away concern, isn’t it?  How about about environmental assessments, maintenance costs and safety?

And the one thing that would really sink this shipful of colourful power point presentations? Parking.

During the exhaustive consultation that preceded Bernard Avenue’s redesign, it was the seemingly mundane that prompted countless Kelowna residents to leave comfort of their homes and fight the system.  Moats would definitely use up a few prime spaces.

To all these queries, they had responses.

“In San Antonio people said they were crazy, but they did it and now it’s the biggest tourist draw there…. (it) brings in millions of clean, tourism dollars each year… and (these plans are) no different than the waterways constructed around the Grand.”

TPF had answers ready, but none of them had a great deal of resonance. Especially when you consider that their Texan example was a flood mitigation plan constructed in 1939. Wasn’t a lot to dig up back then, I imagine.

It’s all a bit cringe-worthy if you take it too seriously, but I’m feeling optimistic right now.

I’m pretty sure that most people don’t need to have their attention drawn to the flaws in the plan. Or, as Carol Gran referred to them, “the wrinkles.”

What TaxPayersFirst has done is create a conversation about local politics and bravo to them for that.

From my position at a news desk, I can say with absolute certainty, there is nothing more difficult than sparking conversations about local politics.

When was the last time you heard someone who wasn’t paid to do so talk about the cost of digging up city sewage and electrical systems? Never, that’s when.

And when was the last time you daydreamed about far-off and wild ways to improve this city? More often, I hope, but probably not enough.

The TPF five said they brainstormed and came up with eight larger than life plans they feel they could get a start on in the next four years, should they be elected. The four they’ve shown are the ones they think could gain traction. Think deeply on that for a moment: The ones we’ve seen have been vetted and picked based on the fact that they may gain traction.


Wouldn’t it be grand to have the full list to mull over, maybe mock, weigh the merits of and then daydream about?

I would love that. But I love the chatty, sometimes catty, aspect of political theatre.

If I were a candidate in the upcoming election, however, I can’t say that I would have the cajones to run a whole campaign on promises that may be impossible to keep.

It would be, in the vernacular of Hamlet, like lining up to be “hoisted by one’s own petard.”

But that’s just my thought. What really happens is up to you, Kelowna. See you at the ballot box.



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