Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Colliery Dam Saga - Exaggerated Risk?

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary. H.L.Mencken

It makes you wonder if there are not special departments tucked away in all levels of government whose sole purpose it to keep inventing reasons to tax and spend just to keep everyone doing something.

As Mencken noted the use of keeping the population alarmed by menacing hobgoblins keeps the population looking for someone to keep them 'safe'.

Nanaimo seems to have some excellent examples recently of the use of this governance tactic. It should be noted, these tactics work best when the electorate hits the 'dumb' switch by assuming they are being told the unbiased truth by their 'leaders'.

Water Treatment Plant $80,000,000
In spite of having to boil water in Nanaimo 3 times in 150 years, our masters decided they needed to spend $80 million or so on a new water treatment plant, enclosed reservoir and new piping etc. Why? That's a very good question, we wouldn't want someone to get an upset tummy or the trots because they didn't heed the boil water order.

New Staff Office $16,000,000
A report declared the old city hall annex 'could fail in a seismic event' (what couldn't) and so our masters once again decided they needed to spend $16 million to keep themselves 'safe' in a building likely as solid as any downtown already. Deciding not to spend a few million upgrading the existing facility.

Old Annex Caveat Makes $3 million building Worth $1
Saying the old annex would have to met standards not required by the building code, this building with a $3 million assessed value was sold for $1.00!

Old Theatre On Victoria Rd. $200,000 To replace loose stucco
A perceived safety hazard of falling stucco resulted in our masters deciding to spend $200,000 to replace siding on a building engineers say is not seismically sound. We are worried about the safety of people walking on a sidewalk, but not 150 inside an unsound building?

Colliery Dams 'Most Dangerous In Province' $30,000,000 to replace
A published risk of 40% chance of failure in 50 years justifies the removal of two one hundred year old dams at a cost of nearly $10 million. as opposed to spending $3 million to bring to a standard higher than what applies to schools. Exaggerating the danger, and over stating loss of life props up the need to remove this grave hazard!

Yes, it could be there is a department in governments that are constantly inventing ways to convince us we need them to spend money to save us from imagined peril, of course what could be far more helpful is a department that is constantly seeking ways to save us from 'them'.


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