The developer’s trap

Let me uphold my previous letter about development, where I opined Nelson’s election needs a No-Growth political party. Nelson Landing’s city hall meeting (September 14 ) provoked conclusions:

Let me uphold my previous letter about development, where I opined Nelson’s election needs a No-Growth political party. Nelson Landing’s city hall meeting (September 14 ) provoked conclusions:

1) Nelson doesn’t grow organically, it grows by profiteers’ plans, and there’s no reason to let this go on. Is there clear push for new homes? Is there new employment offered? Are homes affordable? No to all.

Where is humans’ world headed? Not one prognosticator leaves disasters out: environment, war, food, disease. Nelson’s political and social leaders might take the largest, widest perspectives imaginable on the question — or sleepwalk as if present economics will continue.

Vancouver, a desirable place to live according to UN criteria, has a red-hot house market, meaning the average price rose from $650,000 to around $750,000 this past year. No one thinks it makes sense in today’s economy, yet it’s praised. Prices are insane, and credit supports them. Canadians’ debt load grows while world economies weaken. For each $1,000 of earnings, we average $1,500 debt. Vancouver has 17 per cent of its population in low-earning brackets; the next-nearest rate is 12 per cent.

Canada’s growth rate in wealth disparity is faster than the US rate. In the US, one percent of the population has more wealth now than at any time since the 1929 crash. Canada will match this as inequality rises.

Interviewed recently, Prime Minister Stephen Harper saw progress in millions “lifted from poverty by growth;” nothing about 2008’s market failures, severe weather events, food shortage, eco-crises, war.

Overpopulation is not newsworthy; death by poverty and inequality is relentless, so, not news. Mass deaths? News, if a 9/11-type event occurs and it matters to affluent middle class consumers of media. Are Nelson’s leaders in denial like Harper, lacking wisdom apt for 2011? Hey, wake up, “progress” is no longer credible.

2) We let developers speculate, building homes before we want them, marketing to people coming not for work but for retreat. There’s much to flee, but no authentic, organic, wise cause to add people here.

Nelson is funny. We’re upper-middle-class in education, professional incomes, entrepreneurs. Towns near by have base economies — Selkirk, Celgar, Cominco, Trail hospital — for those who like our habitat but can’t find work; an export crop, invisible and illegal, underpins retail prosperity. Believe this truth.

Nelson grows because developers here mount glossy campaigns selling lifestyle, artsy culture, eco-wellness, new age, beauty.

Developers are profiteers, consciously. It’s why they act as they do — it’s in the breed. Our leaders act thoughtlessly — unconsciously. That’s ironic in Nelson, the town where consciousness is our hobby.

Charles Jeanes

Nelson