- Our Town
'Remember way back in 2014?'
"Remember way back in 2014?" I said to my wife as we waited there on the street, our car engine shut off. "When they were still talking seriously about replacing the school?"
I had thought I'd chance it. It had seemed like I had a small window of opportunity that would shave as much as 30 seconds off my car trip. But my timing was bad, and I drove past the school just as the students emerged for lunch. And so we were stuck there, hour after hour, while they crossed 14th Avenue, heading over to the Safeway.
The stream of humanity reminded me of the stories you hear of the surveyors, mapping out the prairies in the 1800s. They would be returning to their camp when the buffalo would appear, countless thousands upon thousands, like an endless river of beef flowing between them and their camp. All the surveyors could do would be to get to a hillock or a copse of trees and wait for the buffalo to go by. It would sometimes take days.
Or like that scene with the caribou in "Never Cry Wolf." If that herd wants to pass, you sit there and let it pass. Arm yourself with patience, my friends.
"I remember in 2014, when a provincial education minister came through — it's been so long ago I forget who — and said that Mount Baker Secondary was in the third category of replacement," I said to my wife as we sat there in the car at the crosswalk.
"They've kept coming through since then, over the decades," I continued. "Education ministers from the B.C. Liberal government, then the NDP government, then that B.C. Conservative government, then from the government of that crazy party that's in power now!
"And they've all said the same thing. Mount Baker Secondary School is in the third category for replacement. First come the earthquake prone schools. Then the over-crowded schools. Then the old schools that need replacement, like Baker."
"But the trouble is," my wife said, "by the time it's the old school's turn to get replaced, the earthquake prone schools are so old that they need to be replaced too, and since they're always in the first category ..."
We watched the students pass in front of us while we waited at the crosswalk. Thousands and thousands of students, heading to Safeway for lunch. We marvelled at the fashions.
"You'd think that after what happened to the arena, that they'd consider Cranbrook part of an earthquake zone and put our school in the first category," my wife said.
"They've never effectively proved that the big earthquake of '29 wasn't the result of fracking," I said. "If a quake is caused by fracking, it doesn't count. And the crazy party that's in power now made that official only last year."
"Well then, that's a lot of years of lobbying down the drain, no pun intended," said my wife.
"The good thing that came out of that was that the school was able to salvage all the material from the arena to help shore up the welding shop," I said. "I'm glad we had no kids in school by then, to work on that particular 'bee.'"
"The 'rubble drive,' I remember it was called," said my wife.
We watched the students go by. I glanced at my watch and noticed that the second lunch hour shift was coming out. "Gawd, was my timing ever bad today," I said.
I looked over at the statue of Mayor Bud Abbott. "Remember when there was an iron bear statue there?" I asked. "Wonder what ever happened to it."
"The material was incorporated into girders for the Key City Theatre expansion, I think," said my wife. "For when the Rolling Stones came through on their 70th anniversary tour."
That had been the tour that Mick Jagger had returned to wearing spandex pants, thus setting a brief but intense retro fashion trend.
It was early evening by the time the students finished going to and coming from the Safeway, and we were able to drive on and go get our own lunch. We'd been sitting so long my spandex pants had become wrinkled and uncomfortable, and I picked and pulled at them as I got out of the car. I've always been a little late in following the trends.
Barry Coulter is Editor of the
Cranbrook Daily Townsman