By Harvey Oberfeld
June the 13th, 2015
Closing the Burrard Bridge on Sunday, June 21, for International Yoga Day was NEVER a good idea.
Summer Sundays on Vancouver roads and bridges are almost as busy as weekdays …with so many families out for sunny drives and shopping, heading in and out of the downtown; with thousands of suburbanites driving to the Vancouver Aquarium, Stanley Park, Horseshoe Bay, Squamish, Whistler etc. ; with thousands more visitors and tourists added into the mix.
It was a dumb idea from the start to close the Burrard Bridge from 4 a.m. Sunday morning to about 11 a.m. so Yoga enthusiasts could twist and turn in the breezes across the bridge … instead of doing what other cities are doing … holding Yoga Day celebrations in parks and plazas, on beaches, in fields, in arenas and on mountains.
But Premier Christy Clark and Mayor Robertson and their corporate sponsors were holding FIRM with their plans to spend your money … more than $150,000 to bring in civic workers on a Sunday close down the bridge, provide police for security; and all kinds of other support servicesand disrupt transit.
Never mind that some critics accused the Premier/Liberals of pandering to some VERY big Liberal-friendly personal and corporate donors involved in what promised to be The Season’s Biggest Photo-Op!
Never mind that thousands of motorists and their families would be disrupted, displaced and detoured for the benefit of a comparative few. And all the costly transit re-routings and changes.
Never mind that another International Yoga Day had already been announced, planned and organized.
And never mind that this would also be Father’s Day … with even greater weekend traffic volumes than normal expected on city streets and bridges … and never mind that MOST of Fathers’ one day a year attention and news coverage was about to be usurped by an overwhelmingly female event.
Never mind all that … the minds were made up … it was far enough from a civic or provincial election date, so there’d be little consequence …. let those who opposed it just lump it … because they KNEW we would not actually do anything to ruin their photo-op.
“Ask yourself if we shut down the bridge for a ball hockey tournament, would some of those people still be complaining?” Clark stated, defending the bridge closure plan.
(Just try closing Granville Bridge on MOTHERS’ DAY for a Fishing/Hunting Outdoor spectacular!)
However, Sunday June 21 is not only Fathers’ Day and International Yoga Day … it is also International Make Music Day, Summer Solstice Weekend; the 50th Anniversary Celebration of The Doors; World Giraffe Day.
Still no reason to give International Yoga Day the heave-ho. Let the fun … and all the traffic diversions … begin!
Until First Nations militants also vowed to show up … because Sunday June 21 is also National Aboriginal Day in Canada …. and some First Nations activists threatened to turn it into another LOUD massive protest.
And perhaps more importantly … steal the media spotlight!
“Aboriginal groups were equally upset and launched their own social media campaign, pledging to crash the event with protests, singing and drumming. A Facebook page was set up urging “Decolonize the Burrard Bridge on National Aboriginal Day,” the National Post reported.
That did it!
Our fearless “leaders” …. the politicians and the corporate sponsors, who were prepared to stand up FIRMLY …. backed by Vancouver Police … against criticisms and obvious common sense in event planning, ignore angry local residents, fuming motorists and transit disruptions…. suddenly all ran for the hills!
“The natives are coming; the natives are coming,” I could almost hear them all sounding the alarm as first, the Premier changed her mind and said she would NOT attend; and, then the corporate sponsors grabbed their bags of money and drove off in their BMWs.
That’s good … because the bridge will remain open … unless the natives alone decide to close it down on their own…. and that’s bad … because our “leaders” have now signalled First Nations: they don’t see you as equals deserving the same responses they gave the rest of us; but as more dangerous people who are likely to cause loud disruptions and maybe even carry out violence.
Just when you think equal treatment/respect for First Nations could become a reality … along with expectations of responsible behaviour … it’s our leaders who let them down … their actions betraying their confidence that First Nations leaders could actually achieve that.