This guest post was written by Hugh Naylor, one of the pioneers of Pemberton trails network. Hugh and wife Jan landed in Pemberton in 1967, back when the Village’s population was 250, and between them, the pair were the driving force behind the creation of the Library, the Salmonids in the Classroom project, a host of stewardship initiatives, the Valley Loop Trail, the PVTA, and the establishment of an annual $50,000 trails budget for the Village of Pemberton and part of Area C (the Pemberton Valley Recreational Trails Service Area.) Hugh kicked off the annual bird count, before handing the reins to John Tschopp. He’s been a reader and supporter of the Wellness Almanac. This is second (most welcome) post.
I was born in 1938 in the Nuttall Hospital in Kingston, Jamaica (no jokes here please), about a kilometre from the Bob Marley museum. My father was a very waspish investment broker employed by a Montreal based firm to look after their interests in Jamaica, then a part of the British Colony known as the British West Indies. All through my life, communication with my father was a problem.
My favourite photo of us together is of us sharing a very small boat fishing on an Okanagan lake, our faces in profile, looking back, not speaking, perhaps what I would call today “being in the moment” enjoying an infrequent period of real communication.
I grew up with ignorance and disdain of the business world. To my father, the politician to vote for was the man who proved himself successful in business, whereas I was (still am) more aligned to the common man, the 99%.
From our vantage point, the view outside the living room window, (also the location of the fireplace where we spend many hours in the winter), I can see where the access trail off Urdal Road to the Lillooet River reaches the dyke just before the CN railway bridge. Up until last year an ongoing confrontation between trail users and the CN rail crew took place with cycles of trail obliteration (by CN) and restoration by trail users taking place on a regular basis.
So where am I going with this?
I see this representing a flaw in a system that features the financial interests of company shareholders pre-empting the interests of an affected community. How or why should a Texas shareholder possibly be informed, care or be influenced by a local problem such as this? The responsibility in the mind of our hypothetical Texas shareholder is to maximize his share value. This is done by keeping profits up i.e. costs down. One of the costs is liability insurance premiums which can be kept down by imposing a trespassing ban on the bridge which would absolve CN of responsibility. CN altruistically claims it is a safety issue. I waited about 6 months for CN to replace a missing handrail on the walkway before giving up and fixing it myself many years ago. That WAS a safety issue; but CN’s liability was covered by the “No Trespassing” sign so from the Texas shareholder’s point of view all’s well, no problemo.
So what’s my point?
The problem is the opaque relationship between the CN and local affected trail users. There is no incentive or obligation on the part of the Montreal based corporation, (with Bill Gates as the majority shareholder, – wikipedia) as long as our Texan is happy, to address the issue. Local government are the mice competing with the elephant at the salad bar.
Does anyone want to defend the morals of a system that creates this state of affairs?
Somebody please help me with this one. Small communities like Pemberton are great places to live, but we do run the risk of being stepped on.
When I was a recalcitrant pain-in-the-ass hippy student I could never have had this discussion with my father. I probably could now if he were alive.
Anybody out there want to be a surrogate business man/father?