Trip stirs up questions about society’s imbalance

I am not a keen flyer; I lack the endurance, the tolerance and the essential self-control to cope with all the waiting, queuing, and security hassle associated with air travel. Driving, even over long distances, is, by comparison, rather pleasant.

My most recent travel experience was a trip to Vancouver. The drive south was uneventful: drive to Prince George, turn right, drive on to Hope, turn right again, and first thing you know you are in Vancouver. With good weather and a well-maintained vehicle, and provided one rises at a decent hour, packs an adequate lunch, a sizable mug of coffee and a jug of water, the trip can be comfortable. It can be an outright pleasure if one remembers to take along a couple of gripping multi-CD stories to while away the hours.

The weather in Vancouver was better than that promised by the city’s ostentatious tourism brochures. At any hour, from sunrise to sunset and back again to sunrise, I cannot find an appropriate word in my thesaurus to describe the spectacular view from the balcony of our 19th floor hotel room on Denman Street in Vancouver’s West End.

Driving around the West End, one of Canada’s most densely populated neighbourhoods, is an ordeal even in a modest-sized car. This is most definitely not crew cab country. Riding a bicycle appeared to be a more appropriate if not more efficient way to move around the neighbourhood, but in all that traffic I felt most secure keeping to the crowded sidewalks.

One of our more impressive outings was a 40-minute boat tour of the inner harbour. We saw every imaginable water craft on that tour, from massive ocean freighters to stand-up paddle boards.

The harbour tour was impressive, but there was a disturbing aspect to it. There are private yachts docked in that harbour – more than one – the size of a moderate ferry. Some private yachts are so large as to require tug boats to ease them in and out of their berths. The sight of these colossal yachts did more to help me recognize the magnitude of the gap separating the 1 per cent from the 99 per cent in our society than I could comprehend from reading statistics on income and wealth expressed in millions and billions of dollars.

Back on land after the harbour tour, strolling along West End sidewalks, I took greater notice of details I had previously failed to notice.

Instead of occasional garbage cans as found in small town public areas, Vancouver’s West End features triple waste disposal containers: landfill, recycle, and composting. It is evident that people use these facilities as intended.

What I also noticed with greater disquietude were homeless people – not in Vancouver’s skid row, but in its prosperous high-rise West End. It struck me that we are more conscientious in the ways we treat the waste generated by society’s affluence than we are in the ways we respond to the human misery emanating from that same affluence.

The drive home was an adventure of a different kind. Highway 97 was closed to all traffic due to the many fires in the Cariboo region. The traffic was heavy along our alternative route, Highway 5 from Hope to Tête Jaune Cache, and from there along Highway 16 to Prince George where we found ourselves back on familiar terrain. Although we were hundreds of miles from the nearest fires, the smoke was at times so intense that we could virtually taste it. Lightning may have ignited those fires, but are we really innocent in the way they spread and the resulting suffering and damage?

I had set out on an innocuous trip.

I came back challenged by an uneasy philosophical question: How can I reconcile the beauty of nature’s balance with the wanton lack of balance in our society’s capabilities?

Just Posted

Nearly $500,000 available for internships with northern B.C. First Nations governments

Funds announced through partnership with Northern Development and Government of Canada

Terrace husband and wife honoured for saving each other’s lives

BC Ambulance presented each a Vital Link Award for separate incidents of CPR

$15 million spent on cancelled transmition line

BC Hydro had already spent approximately $15 million on planning a new… Continue reading

New funding available for industry innovation

Northern Development Initiative Trust opened new funds, focused on areas impacted by the pine beetle

Former resident wins filmmaking award

Veronika Kurz will be able to make her film with $15,000 cash and in-kind services, up to $100,000

Solitary-confinement veto a chance to address mental health: advocate

B.C. Supreme Court made the landmark ruling Wednesday

Winter storm coming to B.C. this weekend

The bets are on as to how much snow the province will actually get in the coming days

B.C. civil rights group files complaint about RCMP arrest of man who later died

Dale Culver, a 35-year-old Indigenous man was arrested in Prince George last July

Lawyer says former B.C. government aide ‘barely guilty’ in ethnic vote scandal

Brian Bonney pleaded guilty to a breach of trust charge

Quite a few tears as homemade quilts distributed to residents of Ashcroft Reserve, Boston Flats affected by last summer’s fire

Quilters in B.C. and Alberta worked through the summer and fall to create more than 100 quilts.

Island Health: No need for alarm in wake of Victoria needle-prick incidents

Three incidents in a week prompts meeting between health authority, city service providers

B.C. coast loggers celebrate history, hope for improvement

Truck Loggers Association awaits B.C. NDP government’s new direction

Global Affairs aware of report of two Canadians kidnapped in Nigeria

The foreigners were heading south from Kafanchan to Abuja when they were ambushed around Kagarko

Whistler role in potential Calgary Olympic bid would be welcome: IOC

Calgary is mulling whether to vie for the 2026 Games, and could look to facilities in B.C.

Most Read