‘Never mind world politics,’ Camp said to me, holding up a hand to stop me from even thinking about anything outside of our small peninsula community. ‘I don’t want to hear about the Brexit fiasco or Trump closing the Mexican border after he cut foreign aid to Central America and we can’t do anything about the whole of China acting like one big company or the rise of fascism throughout the world. But we have plenty of local issues which divide and engage people, we have our own politicians whose motives and allegiances are questionable and once in power toss former convictions out the window and we also have misinformation and differing opinions on every conceivable subject, public and personal, right here at home.’
“Camp, what do you think of the argument that all these Airbnb’s should be permanent rentals, instead of temporary holiday rentals?”
Campbell, Camp to us all, took a long swig from his cold beer and sat back in his chair. This was going to be a long answer. “First of all you can’t force people to rent out their extra apartments or rooms to people who can’t find affordable housing elsewhere,” he pontificated. “You cannot roll off a communal and collective responsibility onto the shoulders of individuals. You can tax holiday rental income and put that money to work and you can limit the amount of Airbnb’s in specific communities and maybe even give out licenses but then you’ll have the big operators buying up all the licenses and leave the mom-and-pop operations out of the loop.”
“There were always B&B’s and holiday rentals and exchanges. I remember my parents renting somebody’s flat or farmhouse in the mountains for ski holidays. Cheap and affordable. Nothing new about all that except Airbnb have really cornered the market with their user friendly and peer reviewed platform. We use it all the time when we travel.”
Last evening felt like fall was just around the corner. We can see the mountains and islands once more and the smoke has moved on. Leaves are floating to the ground and the blackberries are done. It’s harvest time, a time of abundance. Farmers’ markets up and down the coast, apples and berries by the buckets and everybody, including Clare and I, are swapping canning and drying recipes with our neighbours and friends. Camp and I even exchanged blackberry jelly Clare made for peaches Muriel canned. At our local beer farm we can also swap hops picking for beer. How lucky we are.
“We still need the rain,” Camp said as Vicky served us our first round.
“This year is the worst wild fire season on record in BC, over 2000 fires and 13’000 square km burned and no rain on the horizon.”
“I can’t believe we don’t have better water management here on the coast. Our sports fields look like parking lots and water restrictions are the norm at this time of year,” I said.
“I should know,” Camp said. “We’re always talking water supply improvements, reviews and proposals, anything from new wells to lowering the intake on Chapman Lake.”
“How about raising the dam instead of lowering the intake?” I ventured.
“You should attend some of the town’s or district meetings. It’s not about doing the work, it’s all about process, regulations, agreements, approvals and more consultation,” Camp said.
“Yeah, it’s all about consultation, dialogue, interest groups, stake holders, levels of governments etc. Just look at the Appeal Court’s thumbs down on the Kinder Morgan pipeline. Apparently not enough of the above has been done.”
“It’s called the ‘rule of law’ and democracy,” Camp said.
“I call it too much bureaucracy,” I countered. “This decision, framed as Trudeau’s failure, will be exploited by the conservatives but transporting bitumen by rail leaves a bigger energy footprint and is less safe than a pipeline. And not all First Nations are against it. Not in my backyardseems to be the main argument.”
“We’re addicted to oil, we do need water and there is fire all around us. Sounds like a Shakespearean drama,” Camp said, taking a much needed swallow of beer. I did the same.
“Let me get back to the local water issue,” I said. “ The talk is all about drinking water supply and management but there are other sources of the precious liquid we could harness besides lakes and aquifers, like rainwater for example.”
“Exactly, Brother’s Park, the one and only sports field for the town of Gibsons, sits right beside the new recreation center and ice rink. We could and should collect the rain water from its large metal roof into a cistern which could then be used to water the sports fields.”
“You’re preaching to the choir Camp. My neighbour installed a 1000 gallon water tank to do just that. Collecting the rainwater from his roof to be used for outdoor watering. It’s done all over the world.”
“You’re right,” Camp said, “I’m going to adopt this concept for my upcoming election platform, along with the harbour expansion and a controversial proposal to move the town hall to upper Gibsons. There is no need for the old municipal buildings to straddle the best view property in the lower village.”
“Oh, and what should be in it’s place? Another hotel development? a park? or how about a seniors residence? I would like to have that lovely view when I’m old and immobile,” I said. “Almost as good as the view from here.”
“Good luck with that,” Camp said, “in order to finance a new town hall we would have to sell that property. I doubt if a developer would build a seniors residence,” Camp said.
“Unless of course it was part of the deal,” I countered. “I would like to point out that seniors are a large part of our local economy and they deserve a room with a view.”
Camp shook his head of untamed grey curls, which he hasn’t maintained for several months. When I asked him if his unruly head of hair was a deliberate look that he promoted for his upcoming re-election, he replied kind of tartly: “Muriel likes it. ‘Makes you look like Einstain’she said, ‘smart and distinguished’.”
“How about wild and crazy?” I laughed.
“I like it,” Rosie said as she brought us a refill. “We have enough guys in suits and buzz cuts telling us how it is.”
“There you go,” Camp said smugly, looking like the cat that swallowed the canary. “I’ll drink to that.”