A few years ago, when I bought my first condo, I only waited three weeks to start complaining.
The strata’s fines – for everything from pets to parking to noise – were ridiculously high, I thought, and though I had not been guilty of breaking any of said rules, I felt it necessary to voice my opinion.
No doubt, part of the reason I only waited as long as I did is because, simply put, I’m a bit of a grump. Ask around – I love nothing more than complaining.
But more than that, I felt I had a legitimate beef. Other longer-serving members of the strata agreed with me on some issues, and not on others, but either way, my concerns – aired publicly and politely, of course – were met with eager ears and a reasonable response.
Good thing I didn’t live in White Rock, where apparently two years is the minimum time one must put in before being allowed to complain.
I refer, of course, to proposed changes to the City of White Rock’s tree-cutting bylaw 611, which is more convoluted than it needs to be but, if I understand it correctly, boils down to this:
Thou shalt not ask the city to cut down or prune a public tree that’s blocking your view, unless you were there first, or you liked the view better before – or you’ve been there two years, or the tree has been there two years…
Or something like that. Sorry, I’m a little confused.
And if it’s a “new” view – new being a relative term, of course, because the topography of the area hasn’t changed too much since the earth cooled – well, good luck, pal; enjoy your partial view between tree branches, which technically becomes new again every spring when the leaves return.
And no matter the details, I’m not sure what is more shocking to me. That thus far the proposal has been met with little resistance – or even someone to point out how arbitrary and ridiculous it all seems – or that city advisors came up with such parameters in the first place?
White Rock city staff and council members have spent so much time dealing with the issue – and we, the media, so much time reporting on it – perhaps it’s been blown up so much that we’ve tricked ourselves into thinking it is of some greater concern.
Now, I’m not anti-tree, or pro-development, or even pro-view. My dad’s an abourist, so I grew up with a pretty healthy appreciation for nature.
But it’s just trees, folks. Trees affecting an incredibly small portion of the area’s demographic – those who either live beside trees on large plots of land, or who own million-dollar houses on the bluff.
It’s what Twitter users would quickly tag as #richpeopleproblems.
Surely, there are bigger issues. Or at least, simpler solutions.
It’s when dealing with the latter that I’m reminded of some advice I once received from a service technician at the car dealership where I worked in high school, after I came to him with yet another complicated solution to a simple problem.
“Quit thinking, you’re hurting the team,” he told me.
Pretty good idea, no? And he wasn’t even the mayor.
Now, I don’t have a solution, simple or otherwise, but then again, perhaps I’m not fit to speak on the subject of views. After all, the sightlines from my house aren’t exactly of a lottery-home calibre.
If I look out my back window, I can see my garage, and more houses. Out the front, an old farmhouse, but if I crane my neck just so, I can almost see Costco.
But even if I could see the ocean from my front door, I don’t know what difference my opinion would make.
I’ve only lived there nine months.
Nick Greenizan writes for the Peace Arch News.