Happy St. Patrick’s Day. And may I say that shade of green really brings out your eyes.
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Now, back to the news: Today we’ve got condos rising and bears awaking but we begin with the passing of the politician Liberal stalwart Sheila Copps once called: “The best damn Liberal in the NDP.”
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Ian Waddell, legal firebrand and former Port Moody-Coquitlam MP, dies at 78
Whether it was battling B.C. Hydro, bargaining for Indigenous land rights or filibustering to delay construction of a gas pipeline, Ian Waddell had a habit of being at the centre of things.
Waddell died at his home Monday night.
At five years old he immigrated from Scotland to Canada with his family, growing up in the Toronto suburb of Etobicoke and beginning his political career within only a little upholstery between him and the Prime Minister.
On the road to power: In 1962 and barely out of his teens, Waddell got a job chauffeuring Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson. However, by the end of the 1960s Waddell moved left and west. He canvassed for the B.C. NDP, set up shop as a storefront lawyer on East 11th Avenue in Vancouver, and eventually ran up against BC Hydro.
Playing against a monopoly: The utility, he learned, was “demanding security deposits from students, unemployed people, artists, and generally anybody it thought might not pay their bills,” he recalled in his 2018 memoir, Take the Torch.
While he was cautioned in court for calling BC Hydro “extortionists,” Waddell eventually prevailed as the judge ruled the power provider couldn’t discriminate against customers. As a result of the case, approximately $400,000 in security deposits was returned to 14,000 low-income customers, according to a Vancouver Sun article.
Shortly after, Waddell campaigned to be MP for Vancouver Kingsway.
- In his memoir, he described a friend predicting he would win. “Everyone cheered,” he wrote. “I thought we all must be stoned.”
Moving on up: Described by Maclean’s in 1980 as “young, street-smart and media-wise,” Waddell brought his humorously aggressive style to federal politics, using his first speaking opportunity to assail a bill ostensibly written to allow greater freedom of information. He presented the President of the Privy Council with a dump truck.
“Because, if he will look closely at the exemptions, he will see that one can drive a truck through some of them.”
Working with future prime minister Jean Chrétien, Waddell helped draft the First Nations amendment to the Constitution, designed to entrench Indigenous rights.
Back home: Waddell’s political career hit a rough patch in the Tri-Cities. After five years of serving as MP for Port Moody-Coquitlam, Waddell saw his support wither in 1993 as he garnered only 21 per cent of the vote. The defeat came shortly after a failed campaign to lead the federal NDP.
- “When I left politics – or was fired by my constituents – I was at loose ends for a few years,” he recalled.
Third act: In addition to a career as an NDP MLA that included stints as Minister of Environment and Minister for Small Business, Waddell backed Vancouver’s bid for the 2010 Winter Olympics. He also penned the fictional thriller A Thirst to Die For: A Political Mystery, which centred around a shadowy cabal overseeing covert water exports from Canada to the United States. In an effort to reach out to a younger generation, Waddell also co-produced the documentary The Drop: Why Young People Don’t Vote.
Reflecting on his memoir, Waddell called the book: “a kind of road map, landing somewhere between the practical and the visionary, that shows how it is possible to make social change.”
What happened: As if begrudgingly enjoying an inferior movie sequel, Coquitlam council unanimously approved a six-storey, 128-unit condo development on Dansey Avenue between on Monday night.
A similar version of the project, which included 109 affordable units to be developed with BC Housing, got as far as third reading last July. The new project, located on a residential street between Rochester and Austin avenues, is entirely market condos.
- Calling the change “unacceptable,” council watcher Rob Bottos underscored the need for housing “people can actually afford.”
Reason for the change: BC Housing was “not able to commit” to the project, according to Jay Lin, vice-president of development for Belford Properties. However, the project will feature units priced “around the $300,000 mark,” according to Lin.
BC Housing did not respond to a request for comment by deadline.
What council said: While councillors used words like “disappointed,” and “unfortunate” to describe the change, Mayor Richard Stewart suggested there was no sense in punishing the company for falling short of its original ambition.
- “It’s not as good as the thing they tried to do,” Stewart said. However, taken on its own merits, Stewart said the project was worth supporting.
- 77 studio/one bedroom units
- 32 two-bedroom units
- 19 three-bedroom units
- 159 parking spots
If you want to stop bears from treating your neighbourhood like a smorgasbord, don’t put out a garbage buffet.
That was the gist of a joint press release from Port Coquitlam, Coquitlam and Port Moody following a spate of recent bear sightings.
- Keep pet food inside
- Clean your barbecue
- Freeze food scraps
- Place birdfeeders well out of reach
- Harvest fruit, berries and vegetables before or as they ripen
“Increased bear activity across the Tri-Cities is directly related to the availability of food,” the tri-municipal release noted. “After bears find a meal once in a garbage cart, they quickly learn to check all the homes on a street and teach their cubs to do the same.”
In other bear-related news: UBC researchers are currently conducting a survey into bear conflicts and municipal strategies in dealing with those conflicts. If you would like to participate, you can find more information here.
- That dude can shred: The Coquitlam Spring Shredding Fundraiser is set for March 20 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in the Canadian Tire Parking Lot in support of Rotary Club of Coquitlam.
- Speaking in code: Port Moody coding camps kick off March 22
- Bee Positive: Port Coquitlam native plant nursery set to open March 20
- Taste of the Tri-Cities: From now until March 19th restaurants across the Tri-Cities area are being showcased for a local food festival
- Dozens of students in quarantine following school outbreaks
- B.C. hospitals hit 72 per cent capacity as COVID-19 cases increase
- B.C. income and disability assistance rates to get boost of $175 this April
- You’ve got until 8 p.m. to polish off that Guinness
Coquitlam artist Ola Volo has unveiled an interactive, 42-foot mural that doubles as a YWCA housing fundraiser. Located at Burrard Street and Melville Ave. the Wall for Women portrays a queen regaining her power and features QR codes embedded in the design.
Consider the work, consider the meaning, and, if you’re interested, consider donating.