NORTH PARK TWO

LISA HOPELESS – I’d like to welcome everyone back for round two of Save-On-Foods versus Yew Tree Farm. We’ve got a lot of speakers to get through tonight, so it’s important that everyone be respectful of the rules. You’ve got five minutes. With a minute remaining you will receive a mild electric shock. Go over your allotted time and an air raid siren will sound and you will be escorted by armed guard from the chambers. Got it? Good. Our first speaker is Bitter Old Lady.

BITTER OLD LADY – I walk my grandkids through the filthy, disgusting North Park neighbourhood every day. Last week, my grandson—the little lump—gets away from me and runs into the park. He thinks there’s been a birthday party because there’s so many balloons lying around. But they’re not balloons—they’re filthy, disgusting condoms!

(Boos from the crowd.)

LISA HOPELESS – Keep a lid on it! You may not agree with this old crone, but she has as much right to express her views as the rest of you, at least until Justin rewrites the free speech laws. Next we have High Tech Nerd.

HIGH TECH NERD – Mayor, council. I probably seem like a hysterical teenage girl, but I’m actually the CEO of a local high tech company. Go figure. Anyway, I recruit talent from across Canada. And do you know the number one reason why these recruits want to come to Victoria, even though most of them will be taking a substantial pay cut? Because Victoria is cool. I oppose this development because Save-On-Foods is definitely not cool!

LISA HOPELESS – Thank-you High Tech Nerd. Next we have Blonde Guy.

BLONDE GUY – Hi, I’m Blonde Guy. Some say I bear a certain resemblance to Ryan Gosling. I actually think I’m better looking. But let me level with you—I live nowhere near North Park. Like Bitter Old Lady before me, I think it’s a disgusting neighbourhood filled with drug addicts and poor people. And unlike High Tech Nerd, I think Save-On-Foods is really cool.

(More boos.)

LISA HOPELESS – Let him speak!

BLONDE GUY – Thank-you, mayor. Did I mention that I love your new haircut?

LISA HOPELESS – You can thank Fish. You know they have gender equal pricing now?

BLONDE – What does that mean exactly?

LISA HOPELESS – Whatever your gender, you pay more.

COUNCILLOR CURMUDGEON – Need I remind the mayor we’re not taping an episode of The Ellen Show but trying to have a serious discussion about land use policy.

LISA HOPELESS – Spoil sport! By the way, what exactly was the point you were trying to make Blonde Guy?

BLONDE GUY – My point is North Park is a dilapidated rundown rat-infested shithole of a neighbourhood that needs a serious kick in the butt. And what better way to do that than a development that will increase the density of preppy people just like me.

LISA HOPELESS – Our next speaker is the Music Man.

MUSIC MAN – I’m the musical director at the Victoria Conservatory of Music. Actually, I’m just a pencil pusher, but musical director makes me sound so much more important, don’t you think? While many of you might not agree with everything Bitter Old Lady had to say, she is right about one thing. This area has a serious drug problem. The Conservatory has even had to add extra security to prevent addicts from shooting up in our washroom. I trust you’ve all seen the Jack Nicholson movie As Good As It Gets? Well, the title pretty much sums up the choice we find ourselves faced with tonight. This project may not be perfect, but it’s as good as it gets.

LISA HOPELESS – Next up we have Hockey Guy.

HOCKEY GUY – I may look like an old-timer now, but back in the day I’m as close to a celebrity as this city ever had. It was David Foster, me, and that silky lady with the pet food store. But enough about me. I’d just like to say that while some people here might describe the Bozos as clowns, I like them because they think big. And that Save-On-Foods space is way big enough that you could drive a zamboni through it if you wanted to. Outta here.

LISA HOPELESS – Next up we have Mountain Man, not to be confused with Music Man.

MOUNTAIN MAN – The only thing Hockey Guy and I probably agree on is that this development will be monolithic. A dark shadow will be cast over Yew Tree Farm, which as other speakers have stated, is the jewel in the crown of North Park. It’s just not right.

LISA HOPELESS – Right or not, next up we have Stats Lady, not to be confused with High Tech Lady.

STATS LADY – North Park is the poorest neighbourhood in Victoria. The average yearly income is twenty-five thousand dollars, which is fifty thousand below the yearly income of Gonzales, the richest neighbourhood. Sure, Bozo Developments may say they are devoting five percent of the units in the building to low-cost housing, but is that low-cost by North Park standards or Gonzales standards?

LISA HOPELESS – Thanks for the stats, Stats Lady. Our final speaker tonight is Bald Guy.

BALD GUY – Thank-you mayor and council. Big box stores and developers who turn a deaf ear to community concerns are part of twentieth century thinking. I want council to embrace twenty-first century thinking and oppose this development.

LISA HOPELESS – Thank-you all for coming out tonight—although I’m not sure if the extra input has clarified matters, or indeed made the decision before council all the more difficult.

COUNCILLOR JOE THORNTON – It’s going to be a tough one.

LISA HOPELESS – You can say that again, sister.