Anakana Schofield – Author of Martin John and Malarky

Once in a blue moon, said the man

Around 2am there was a fog event last night. I love bearing witness to weather events that sneak in and depart before the sun rises (unless someone wants to contend that it was also foggy at sunrise). Thus we can establish we had a sneaky fog event. By morning, it was grey drizzle.

It was also grey drizzle late this afternoon at City Hall where I attended the Development Permit Board Hearing for the casino expansion. Let’s call it precisely what it is because there’s no way you can facilitate a casino this size into existence and not expect that further slots and table games will not be added. They certainly will.  It’s the baptism of such. They may as well call today the red-ribbon cutting ceremony. Ironically, I sat listening to the submissions while editing and writing the gambling news (my day job). While people testified to their families being devastated by gambling addiction, while letters were read from leading medical experts on addiction warning that this was a grave error by the city, I edited a story about Queensland, Australia increasing the limits on pokie machines so they now accept $50 and $100 dollar bills, ending a decade where the machines were limited to $20. On and on the public testimony around me made it very clear this is not in the interests of the city and it’s fragile citizens and marginalized communities, who will be further marginalized with this expansion in its midst.

In fairness the DPB’s function is to assess and respond to the architecture and plans, so we have to ask ourselves as I did several times during said hearing: How did we end up here AGAIN?

Seemingly during the 2011 hearings where the proposed behemoth casino was roundly defeated and rejected by City Council, as I understand it a space expansion clause was snuck in. Always examine the sneaking-in events I say. Look at the print. Look at the prospects. Imagine the worst. Imagine what it proposes to allow as allowed.

So what began as a sneaky fog event at 2am led by 6pm to the foggy realization of what precisely was snuck in in 2011 and it’s likely impact.

Outside, a man who I think may have seen better times because he had no shoe laces, no socks and smelt profoundly of sherry, remarked to me “Once in a blue moon”. At first I didn’t understand what he was referring to, then he pointed to the moon, blued by the xmas lights and the sunset over East Vancouver and repeated his phrase. It was so resonant of what had taken place inside City Hall where the permit was approved. (Thank you to the public representative on the board who recommend sending it back to council and not approving it — the others merely deflecting to a generic position of what I am here to assess which we can now conclude does not include public safety nor the magimixing of square footage and the intention behind having such an excessive square footage.) Once in a Blue Moon people see sense and act with conviction, I thought walking up the hill. This, alas, wasn’t the day for it. This was a driving at high speed through the fog day.

I would like to thank the man who showed me the moon. I did thank him on the street. But I’m grateful he was paying attention to the moon. I was too depressed by the hearing outcome and had occipital, parietal, frontal, temporal skull bones firmly down.

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