Charity and local Politics

            ‘What do think about the ferry ploughing into the dock last Tuesday,’ I asked my friend Camp who was no friend of the ferry system. He has over the years bitched about many unpleasant incidents with the ferry as most of us coasters have. Like constant delays, the ongoing game of chicken trying to wiggle and slalom into the left lane from the parking lot across three lanes of oncoming traffic or being cut off at the ticket booth while the boat was still loading.

‘Well, that was an accident,’ he said. ‘I did the math. On the Horseshoe Bay to Langdale run alone there are an average of 18 sailings per day, times 365 makes about 6500 trips per year.  Consider weather conditions, machine performance and human errors, your chances of arriving at your destination are about 99.8%. Not bad odds, all in all. It was an accident. Shit happens.’

I looked at Camp, surprised at his answer. It was not what I expected from my often cynical drinking buddy

We both took a swig from our brews and I tried to segue into my peeve of the week. ‘I read a recent investigation by ‘Buzzfeed’ who have taken some of the worlds biggest NGO’s under the microscope,” I said,  ‘for example the report accused the WWF – the one with the cuddly panda bear logo – of funding paramilitary groups that have tortured and killed in the fight against poaching and then there is Greenpeace who campaigns against the messy deconstruction of sea goings vessels on the beaches of Bangladesh, and confessed to the fact that their famous Rainbow Warrior II is being wrecked exactly there.  There is also mighty Oxfam, who owned up to demanding sex for financial help in Haiti. And the list goes on,’ I said, emptying my glass in one go.

‘I haven’t given anything to NGO’s in the last few years. I prefer to be charitable closer to home, like supporting the Granthams Wharf rebuild, but I guess that’s a bit cynical,’ Camp said.  ‘We need these NGO’s but they should be held to the same standards as any corporation, like Nike or Apple or Coca Cola.’

‘They pitch themselves as David against Goliath; good against evil and I bet some NGOs have budgets as big as any multi national.’

‘Yes,’ Camp nodded, I seem to have read that ‘Oxfam took in 1.5 billion dollars in donations last year and Greenpeace has a budget of half a billion dollars. All tax-free. NGOs are important watchdogs and do good deeds but they need to be held accountable.’

Vick appeared with two fresh pints just at the right time.  Time to change the conversation to something closer to home.

‘What’s the latest on The Georgedevelopment, here on the harbour? How is that coming along?’ I asked.

‘Well you know my views on this. There is this small, pesky group who style themselves as the voice of the people, the ‘Gibsons Alliance of Business and Community’, GABC, who fight this development by way of multiple frivolous lawsuits.Right now we’re waiting for a new environmental hearing in October 2019. Additional geotechnical work is required to meet the amended standards for Contaminated Sites Regulations, which came into effect in November of 2017. Just another hurdle put in place by the misnamed  ‘Gibsons Alliance of Business and Community’ group.’

‘I guess that all those multiple challenges which are launched to stall and delay or even cancel the project have cost the town’s taxpayers and the developers a lot of money,’ I said.

‘Hundreds of thousands of dollars,’ Camp nodded. ‘And the last judgement by the Supreme Court of BC was spectacularly dismissive and critical of the GABC’s latest challenge.  You think that when the people cast their vote and made their choice at the ballot box, that would be final but no, some individuals or fringe group can always sue and challenge in court and effectively choke any project if the plaintiff has deep enough pockets.”

‘I would like to know who pays for the GABC legal fees?’ I said.

Vicky overheard the last remark. ‘From what I hear we will have to look for another year at the nasty, scarred building site next to the Winegarden Park,’ she said. ‘It doesn’t seem right. ‘People would rather look at The George.’

‘Exactly,’ Camp said, ‘to local politics,’ he toasted.

‘You’ll not get any free beers with a toast like that,’ Vicky said.


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