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Mayor’s Column – February 28, 2018

February 28, 2018

 

The old dog soon will run no more. It will be a sad day when we look in eager expectation of the regular appearance of the big grey dog, sure that he is coming, but he doesn’t come. We will call and wait and call again, but he does not appear.

We used to feed him regularly and give him doggie treats but, in recent years we have been getting a little careless and, in the end the end, it’s not enough to keep the old grey dog running. Sad it is to witness the end of an era, the dying of an age, especially when we would like to see it continue and prosper. But things are a changing in this changing world and we will have to adapt to the changes though we do not like them and would wish them to remain comfortably the same.

When the last dog pants down the road and out of town on May 31 what will we do? Shall we look for another dog, perhaps a smaller type? We’ll still have to feed it, care for it, provide for its needs, play with it. Are we up to the responsibility?

The things I remember! I was 15 years old sixty-three short, very short years ago. I had finished all the schooling my long-suffering parents were able to give me at home. In their wisdom they bundled me onto a Greyhound bus right here in our much-smaller home town and shipped me off to California to live with my aunt and uncle for a year– hoping that I would use my time wisely to get my goals in focus.

The road was gravel all the way to Cache Creek. Stops were few and far between yet the faithful old dog delivered me safely out of British Columbia.

In following years it was Greyhound that carried me to boarding school in central Alberta and returned me home in the spring. The highways were not good. Number 43 from Grande Prairie to Edmonton was under construction and the tired old dog had to be pulled through some rough and muddy sections. Still, it kept running, stopping to be fed from time to time, delivering its people on schedule, weary, hungry, but at their destinations.

Over the years we came to take the dog for granted. When we needed a lift we’d buy the ticket, relax, and leave the driving to Greyhound professionals. Life was regular, dependable, good.

But things kept changing in this changing world. We discovered air travel. It was faster, sometimes cheaper. We’d shuffle into the tube, shoehorn ourselves into our seats, trying all the while to avoid too much contact with sneezing neighbours and console ourselves with the thought that Vancouver was only 90 minutes away and we would survive.

Well, Greyhound really is going to trot off into the sunset in about three months. I can’t blame the company. It is in business to make money, not to lose money providing a social service and a social service is just the thing we need. We subsidize various services across this great country: transit in the cities, high-level crossings at Port Mann and elsewhere, ferries, (when I was a kid my mother taught me that fairies were mythical creatures; when I grew up I was devastated to discover she was wrong; there are ferries; I’ve been on them), even our highways are subsidized. Why not a transit service for those along the northern highways who actually need it?

This is the message we have to get to our leaders: either work out a subsidizing agreement with the present carrier or provide for subsidizing of another carrier who would be ready to hit the road when Greyhound rolls away for the last time.

Oh, by the way, “do not say, ‘why were the old days better than these?’ …it is not wise to ask such questions” (an ancient wisdom). Instead we need to unite with our northern neighbours to convince the government to act, knowing that “a cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (another ancient wisdom).

 

Merlin Nichols, Mayor