Tip of the bowler hat to MSM on recent coverage

Post by Mike Klassen in

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Sprawling West Kelowna (Westbank, BC). Million dollar homes for sale in the desert.

CityCaucus.com is pleased to report that the mainstream media are picking up storylines in their own coverage that we've also shared with our readers here. It requires a little boldness to discuss topics otherwise ignored by the mainstream. For this reason we give a tip of of bowler hat to the reporters and editors who've also seen fit to report these subjects.

Ten days ago in the throes of the spreading wildfires in West Kelowna, CityCaucus.com wondered aloud whether we could attribute urban sprawl as one of the ingredients for this tragedy. Certainly the folks down at the David Suzuki Foundation felt it was worth sharing with their FriendFeed followers, as well the fine folks at Talk 1410 invited us on to talk about it with their listeners. A week after we raised it here, the Globe and Mail pursued the topic. A friend suggested to me that it was the first time ever that they had seen reporting in Canada's mainstream media linking urban sprawl to an environmental scourge like fire.

Regrettably, the reaction from developers and planners in the Okanagan was predictably dismissive:

Jayne Fosbery, Westbank's economic development officer, said the fires won't put a dent in development plans. It's not hard to see why. Tourists have long flocked to the vineyards, golf courses, ski hills and resorts that surround the region's crown jewel, Okanagan Lake. Mild winters and hot, sunny summers persuaded many vacationers to stay for good.

The affluent (and mostly retired) residents in this region love their beautifully coiffed front yards with dandelion-free lawns in the desert, and it will take some persuading to change this. But good on the G&M for even raising it.

One reader reacted with an email suggesting that we've become a bunch of lefties by discussing that people can't build subdivisions wherever they want. If anything it might be evidence that sustainability is neither the domain of the left nor the right side of the political spectrum, but it's nonetheless an important topic.

Another subject we thought we'd raise here at CityCaucus Towers was whether we might want to step up water restrictions on lawn sprinkling in the face of a 2-month drought. I love lush, green grass in between my toes as much as the next guy, but doesn't the fact we've had no rain in Vancouver since May (okay, it rained one day) maybe change the rules of the game? Doesn't anyone remember the brown lawns when you were a kid — what could be more "summer" that that?

Thankfully the recent heatwave is forcing, albeit slowly, some more MSM coverage on this. On Tuesday the Globe reported on water restrictions in the Fraser Valley, and tonight's CTV BC newscast led with a great report by Shannon Paterson on Delta's "sprinkler police" enforcing restrictions in this municipality.

CTV News anchor Bill Good refers to our water as a "precious resource" but you'd hardly know it from the way people pour it on their lawns during this heat. We're just glad any time the mainstream media help raise the consciousness around less sexy subjects like sustainability.

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