Friday, September 4, 2009

Kulkuri for sale. Home has been sold.

I saw this eye-catching tree, already beginning to change into the colours of its
autumn coat,in the bush at the corner of Balmoral and Beverly Streets when I went to do Raili's hair. These sorts of unexpected beauty in urban spaces are always startling in their reminder to us city-dwellers to appreciate what is right before us. This momentary beauty, this bush, however, is slotted for "development." A group of developers wants to build a condominium complex where that small urban forest sits. That's what Matti told me last time I went to do Eila's hair. They showed me the papers for a public meeting that had been left with them. There has been some objection to the "developers" plans, especially from the folks who live at Maplecrest Condominium which butts up against that small forest, but, as we know, "development" seems to win over leaving nature as it is, especially when the developers can argue how much tax dollars the city will get for the "development." Those who live in Maplecrest Condiminium pay on average about $2400 or so in municipal taxes and there are quite a few units in that multistory building. So, another building = more tax $$. Who needs a tree? You can always plant another one.

I saw this boat for sale at the Prince Arthur's Landing Marina, which is where I walk many mornings of the week. You can see the For Sale sign in the window of the boat. You can also see the stunning municipal boater's building in the background, with its variegated roof tiles that are shaped in a pattern like a stylized boreal forest. I think that's where you can find the harbor master in there most mornings. He must have the job with the best view in town--that is, as of next year that will change to ...HAD the best view in town. Next year he'll be staring at hotel and condominium buildings instead of boats.

The boat's name made me laugh out loud. Chuckling, I said to my neighbours who were out walking with me that morning, "Imagine! Even the traveler is for sale today! Even the traveler has to go!" You see, "kulkuri" means 'traveler' in Finnish. I explained to them that in Finnish folklore, the metaphor of the traveler has been central, not only to signify a person, an outcast, the underdog or someone down on their luck who has to go seek their bread-and-butter in other places away from home and hence be at the mercy of the goodwill of others, never mind the forces of nature, but also especially has been a beloved metaphor of immigrants who had leave home and travel to Canada or the US. Lots of old songs draw on the metaphor of the kulkuri. Those who traveled to Canada were at the mercy of the kieliset....the English, those who knew the language. So, businessmen like my father became carpenters and our mothers struggled with the pronunciation and grammar of English without ESL classes.

Well, the bay where the Kulkuri is docked and all of the waterfront in these photos are undergoing "development." Next year where this bay is, imagine instead a hotel and a condominium complex.

Next year this view will be gone. Imagine instead a hotel and condominium complex.

Next year this view will be gone. Imagine instead a hotel and condominium complex.

Next year this view will be gone. Imagine instead a hotel and condominium complex.

Next year this view will be gone. Imagine instead a hotel and condiminium complex.

Next year this view will be gone. Imagine instead a hotel and condominium complex.

Next year this view will be gone. Imagine instead a hotel and condominium complex.
Am I against this sort of "development?" Yes. Does our city council care that there are many more folks like me who don't want a hotel and a condominium placed on land that our tax dollars have paid to clean up and maintain? No. More than 2 acres of prime waterfront owned by the citizens of Thunder Bay has been sold to "developers" for a measly $250,000 an acre--oh, and of course, the anticipation of all those tax dollars to fill the city coffers.


Merche Pallarés said...

"Development" is a sickness everywhere! I hope you Finns fight against the destruction of that beautiful bay and forest!! Hugs, M.

Ari said...

Isn't there room enough for hotels somewhere else in Canada. I have been thinking that Canada has land enough for whatsoever. These kind of development projects are similar everywhere. Money is controlling everything and everywhere because the "developers" are best payers to politicians. It is waste of paper or disc space to speak about democracy in any political system. Dirty money is leading everything.

northshorewoman said...

MP, you are right, it is a sickness. The "development" I saw in Bahrain, is also such a double-edged sword, wiping out the environment for urban development. Fighting developers is not easy though when the bottom line rules the world.

Ari, absolutely true! Is there not another place to place this hotel and condominiums? Many in our city asked that same question, and said why not put it just on the other side of the train tracks in downtown Port Arthur? It is like 300 m. away.

Tourists and travelers who I chance upon at the lakefront some mornings can't believe how beautiful our marina and waterfront is. They are always shocked to think that anyone would want to put buildings where open space, public open space is now.

Today when I went for a run down to the waterfront I thought how unique that we can go down there, centre of town, and have no eyes on us. Such a sense of being out in the nature. Next year there will be apartment and hotel windows and people like me will walk in their shadow and line of vision. Stupid.