Let’s Keep This Civil

The following is an imagined New Westminster Council public consultation during which it becomes apparent more than a bridge or ferry is needed to connect Q2Q. (Editor’s note: It is a work of fiction, full of self deprecating humour. Don’t read too far into it.) 

Mayor Jackets: Let’s dive in. We are starting the evening with a public discussion of the RFP issued for the Queensborough to Quay pedestrian connection project.

Audience member: [Jumps up from seat.] Quay to Queensborough!

Moderator: Ma’am, you’ll get a chance to speak later.

Audience member: Quay first! We’re number one! [Pumps fist in the air.]

Moderator: [Glares.] Sit down.

Mayor Jackets: Alright, on that note, Councillor Julie is going to summarize the project to date. Julie?

Councillor Julie: Thank you Mayor. We all know the bridge idea has been ruled out; it’s simply too expensive. We can’t accommodate accessibility, ease of river passage and beautiful form while staying within our budget. The Quay residents’ insistence on gold filigree detailing alone puts the city millions over budget. In June, we released a request for proposals to trial a new ferry service between the two communities.

We received a handful of proposals, though none apparently from parties with experience running a ferry service. I will summarize the proposals and then invite the public to speak or ask questions.

Proposal one from “anonymous”: Ive got a boat for you. Its a-boat time you figured out how to build a bridge that doesnt cost 40 million dollars. [Audience applause.]

Okay, well, let’s move on. Proposal two is signed by several Quayside strata presidents: Costco has kayaks on sale. Tell those QBers to use all the money they saved buying in a crappy location to buy their own dang boats and traverse the river on their own dime.

Port Royal audience member: Hey! We paid a premium for that bridge when we bought our house, you know! Paid a premium for nothing!

Quay audience member: You can’t pay for a bridge that doesn’t exist, dummy. It’s not like a view—you can buy a view. And own it. And keep it forever.

Moderator: Please, let Councillor Julie finish. No interruptions. Go on, Julie.

Councillor Julie: Thanks. Our third proposal from a group of Port Royal residents. I think a page must be missing? It seems incomplete. It says: Despite rumours, we do not have a sandy beach on our side. Theres not much to see or do. The trains still whistle in these parts. Your side is better so we understand if you dont want to come over here.

Umm, that was weird. If there’s someone in attendance who can shed light on whether part of that proposal is missing, please speak. [Audience whispers, then silence.]

Hmm. Let’s move on. Our fourth and final proposal, this one from a group of Quay residents: We found an aluminum boat with an outboard motor on Craigslist for $400. Lets use the rest of the bridge money for something more feasible. We were so pleased by the city chopping trees on the riverfront for us but now our neighbours on the back side of our buildings are upset that they dont have a nice view. Is there any way we can use the bridge money to get our sad neighbours a better view?

That’s the last one.

Mayor Jackets: [Furrowed brow.] Are you sure, Councillor?

Councillor Julie: Yep.

Mayor Jackets: I hate to say it, but number four sounds the most promising and raises some excellent points. Let’s hear from the constituents before planning the next steps.

Moderator: One audience member at a time may approach the microphone to make a statement or ask council or our guests a question. Please keep your comments to under two minutes. [Gestures to microphone.]

Audience member: Hi. I’m David. I live in Queensborough. I’m just a bit confused because the mayor just said he wanted to hear from the constituents. But, in Queensborough we aren’t allowed to vote. Well, I mean, we vote for Richmond but I don’t really understand why. So, are we allowed to talk tonight?

Mayor Jackets: David, thanks for your question. I’m troubled to hear this—QB residents are absolutely able to vote in civic elections. It’s the provincial election riding that lumps QB into Richmond. On that note, please go ahead and share you thoughts on Q2Q.

David: I don’t have any Q2Q comments. I just wanted to say that I wouldn’t have voted for you even if I could and I don’t think it’s fair for the mayor to buy the only three-bedroom condominium in the city. [Walks out of building in silence.]

Moderator: [Clears throat.] Reminder to please keep to the topic of the evening, everyone. Let’s continue.

Audience member: I’m Ravi from downtown. I want to express my concern and skepticism that anyone here saying they live in Queensborough is telling the truth—how could they have made it through the bridge traffic and gotten here on time? Should we really take anything they say seriously, then?

Someone in the crowd: We left last night Ravi! Nice try.

Ravi: My wife took the kids to Port Royal for the July first fireworks last year and they didn’t get home until Labour Day.

Someone in the crowd: Your kids don’t look anything like you! [Crowd laughter.]

Ravi: I, I… [Blushes and leaves the building.]

Moderator: Let’s keep this civil. Next, please.

Audience member: Hi. Eliza from Sapperton. I have a question for council: does Port Royal really have a sandy beach?

Mayor Jackets: You know what? Nobody answer her. [Audible sighs of relief from half the public.] No, no sighs of relief either! Stay on topic, please. Do you have any Q2Q-related questions, Eliza?

Eliza: No. Wait. Is there parking at this beach?

Mayor Jackets: Anyone with anything Q2Q related?

Audience member: [Steps in front of Eliza at the microphone.] Good evening. I think the river is a great divide between those who would live in a flood zone and those who have the sense not to. [Bows and returns to seat.]

Moderator: Okay, look: I think we can all agree to only speak if we have questions or comments related to the ferry-service proposals. Anyone else? I guess not. Councillors?

Mayor Jackets: That was a lively discussion. I think council has a lot to mull over in terms of the four proposals. In light of the final proposal being the most complete and frankly rational, I say we move to write a report on its feasibility.

We should discuss another RFP to see what we can do for those Quay residents who don’t have a nice view. That’s just not what New West is about. Perhaps we can move some mountains for them? Engineering—I’m looking at you. What do you—oh! What’s going on? Please be seated everyone. Oh, no!

[A brawl erupts.]

Audience: Queensborough! Quay! Not in my backyard! Keep away from our beach! Stay on your side of the river! I’ll spit on your view! I wish you were further away! Don’t drag my property value down to your level! Go buy your groceries at Walmart! Oh, you don’t like that? Well then take a 10-hour bus ride to my house and tell me to my face! Queensborough! Quay!






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