But it is the cover, and it made the editorial page above the fold.
Wow, now I have a sense of what it feels like to be Stephen, Tony, Justin or Peter.
Let’s get my ‘feelings’ dealt with upfront. The article was balanced and the quotes ascribed to me were fair and appropriate. The editorial though seemed to lack some balance. It might have been appropriate for the North Star to have called me to find out if there was something they were missing. You can’t leave Council meetings early all the time and hope the Cogeco broadcast will fill in the gaps. I recall a young reporter for the North Star earlier this year gave me a call to follow up a deputation I had made to Council prior to writing an article on the issue. I sort of thought that was the way things were done when it came to journalism.
But I managed to ‘snag’ the cover and the lead editorial. I must have really pissed someone off. Even Lac-Mégantic and the potential implications for Parry Sound were forced below the fold.
Let’s look at a what was, and wasn’t said, at least from my perspective.
1. At no point did I oppose the planting of memorial trees. I asked that the issue be considered in the context of a plan. Council unanimously agreed and asked that the creation of a Parks Committee be reviewed by Staff prior to their approval of a memorial tree program. Perhaps Council felt they were being ‘railroaded’ by Staff into a hasty decision.
2. The trees on Tower Hill that were lost to the pine beetle infestation are not located where people would consider planting memorial trees. These trees were literally in the bush, well off the beaten path. They are not on the tidy maintained sections of the garden. But the one memorial tree so far was planted in the garden and not the bush. Why?
3. The Town actually has about $20,000 budgeted for tree replacement but has chosen not to use it. Why? Again I’m not sure.
4. Trees are much like puppies. What was cute and small can grow to exceed one’s expectations. So every tree needs to be planted with a sense of what it will look like in 30 years, and how it will impact neighboring trees, shrubs and grass. They all compete for the same rain, sun and nutrients. I think the birch tree was planted too close to the existing maple tree based on the canopies of the existing birch trees in front of the museum. But hey, perhaps I’m thinking ahead too far. And if you have never planted or dug up a tree it’s not a 30 second process, regardless of the size. And transplanting a tree often leads to the tree slowly dying. Now that’s a real memorial tribute.
5. The sprinkling of ashes is a reality, perhaps one that people in town are not yet aware of, and it has implications. And I suppose that there are members of Staff and Council who don’t know what K2, Spice and Bath Salts are, and what they might imply for the youth of our community. It all may not start here but it will get here.
So where will these memorial trees be planted? If the program is to have any real impact on the town we need to be planning on a couple hundred trees. Where will they go? That’s why the Town would do well to prepare a plan. We certainly don’t want to plant trees that would shade our community gardens. We wouldn’t want to plant trees that would interfere with recreation. Yes you could plant them in the bush area of Tower Hill where many trees were recently cut down, but I suspect there won’t be many takers.
One place these memorial trees might be planted is in a row along Bay Street in front of the Stockey Centre. This was part of the original plan for the centre that was never followed up on by the town. These trees would provide for an imposing view as you head down Bay Street and would obscure the not so pleasant view of the OPP and MNR facilities from the front of the Stockey Centre.
What the Town could use are memorial benches in the parks and recreation areas. We don’t have a budget for them and the Town early this year seriously considered entering into an agreement with a company to place benches in Town in exchange for carrying advertising.
It’s my belief that it’s best to stay ahead of the issues and provide information and perspective to the discussion that can lead to better decisions. It really doesn’t do much to complain about things if you haven’t participated.
I’ll give Jack a call in the next couple of days to discuss the editorial. He may not have written it but he signed off on it. I’ll be interested in learning why they didn’t give me a call before publishing the opinion they did. I spoke with him a couple of years ago prior to my involvement in train safety about whether the North Star had a bias against holding the railways accountable for their impact on the town. This followed an editorial the North Star wrote that was critical of people, not me at that point, who complained about the ever increasing noise and pollution that the trains were ‘delivering’. He explained to me that the opinion expressed in their editorial “Our Opinion” often reflected that of certain people in town, not necessarily the newspaper. I guess that’s one way of expressing an opinion and not being held accountable.
Check out the image below taken in mid-May of this year, before the hardwoods (maple, oak, walnut, basswood, …) had fully leafed out. Those aren’t dead tress you see, they are just waiting for their leaves. If the North Star editorial writers were to climb to the top of Tower Hill they might find their dreams have already been realized.
The View From Tower Hill (May 2013)