Q: What do pet adoption rates tell us about our economy?
A: It tells us quite a bit more than we get from stats on consumer spending or consumer confidence.
If I were to buy a TV or even a car, it could be for one of two reasons:
a. I need a TV/Car
b. Wouldn’t it be cool to have the latest/fanciest TV/Car? I’m going to buy one!
You could argue that people who NEED an item would not be buying the newest or best example of that item, but that’s not always true. When we needed a car because the last one was attacked by a falling tree, we didn’t buy the cheapest used one available; we found a more expensive one, because it had the features that we had been without with the last car. Yes, we have to pay every month for it, but we decided that we wanted a safe car to take our daughter places that aren’t particularly bus-accessible (or for when we have a case of the lazies). So we would have bought some kind of new or almost-new car, and we didn’t feel that economic circumstances could bring us to a different result.
When we finally buy a new TV (we’ve lost three in the past year, and have been taking other people’s TVs to our palliative care facility), it won’t be the cheapest; it’ll be the one that best fits in our living room (probably 32 or 36 inches). And with the TV, we’ll buy it once, and that’ll be it. We won’t be financing it or leasing it, so we don’t need to worry if we’ll have money to make payments in three months.
Pet adoption is a different story. Adopting a pet is a commitment to take responsibility for another life. If money is tight, or a family is worried about keeping their jobs, adopting a pet will seem like a luxury they can’t afford. At least that’s my assumption, since pet shelters are overflowing with animals, and adoptions are nowhere near keeping pace.
When I read in the paper that consumer confidence is up or that Christmas retail sales are at a good level, it doesn’t say nearly as much as when I hear that many pet shelters can’t take any new animals and that foster families are maxed out. That information, coupled with the personal stories of bankruptcy that are becoming far more common, tells me that we’re still in the middle of this economic downturn. And Manitoba has not escaped the effects; we’re just seeing them happen in slow motion compared to our friends in other provinces, and as transfer payments are slashed, it’ll take us longer than our neighbours to recover.
And following that uplifting anecdote…
Q: Why is downtown parking becoming the polarizing debate of our time?
A: People seem to have deluded themselves into thinking that parking is the core issue of downtown revitalization.
I know that parking is an important part of the character of our downtown, and I don’t like staring at surface parking lots or the WRHA’s tribute to urban decline on Main Street. But realistically, I know that the city will continue to worship parking, just as I do between Christmas and Easter, and fighting downtown parking is like chaining yourself to the McDonalds at the Louvre to protest the lack of McRibs while museum staff is busy painting a bra onto the Venus de Milo.
There are two issues in downtown that turn parking into a boneless pork patty: historic preservation and residential growth. I agree that surface lots don’t disappear when parkades are built, particularly when surface lots are left intact while adjacent historic buildings are torn down to make space for new parking; I know many people who will gladly exchange a bus pass for a parking spot if supply outstrips demand and prices start to drop. Personally, I like the idea of incentives for surface lot redemption, to be followed after several years by a surface parking levy to finance further incentives. In addition, it should be made impossible for ANY structurally sound building to be replaced with a parking structure or surface lot as long as there are existing surface lots on the same block.
But that doesn’t mean that parkades should be banned, or that all surface lot owners should have to pay five times the taxes because “there ought to be a building there”. If they want to put a parkade in the East Exchange, I wouldn’t stand in their way if:
a. No existing buildings are demolished
b. Street-level commercial space is incorporated into the parkade
c. The architectural design of the parkade is deemed acceptable by city council
Obviously, in a perfect world, I would put far stricter requirements on the construction of parkades in the Exchange District; one item I’d love to add is that construction materials for the building façade should come from reclaimed brick, but I don’t think that’s realistic in our current political environment. As with everything else, city council will not back the Exchange District 100% until they are utterly convinced of just how valuable the area is. I find it strange that the East Side of Lake Winnipeg is considered UNESCO-worthy by the province, but the Exchange District is left to be demolished one building at a time.
Why is it that a provincial park around Fisher Bay is touted as being worth $38 million, while the Exchange District, a national historic site, is completely ignored? Do our governments have no concept of how much that neighbourhood is worth, or how much potential it has? In the words of Councillor O’Shaughnessy: “The debate is getting lower and lower and lower. Please don’t compare this building or even our whole exchange district with the walled city of Quebec.” Because the Exchange District will have no historical value no matter how old it gets, we should replace it with parkades while financing is cheap.
Q: Why do NDP apologists feel the need to defend every action by every member of the Manitoba government?
A: Because it seems to work? Does it?
I understand the idea of supporting your party; I even launched an incredibly successful fundraising campaign for the Manitoba Liberals: Help Block Out PC Websites! (as of today, only 6% behind the Progressive Conservative Fundraising Campaign!)
But sometimes, the men and women of your political party make mistakes. I won’t list any Liberal mistakes, but I will admit (shockingly) that mistakes have been made. If bloggers such as Never Eat Yellow Snow and Just Damn Stupid were to focus on defending more defensible actions on the part of the NDP, wouldn’t people be more convinced that their points of view have merit?
Note: I do apologize if any of my past actions mixed with this post now warrant a BlockReganHypocrisy.ca.