When I go downtown in Edmonton (almost every day) and look at the “Ice District” — the big arena and the community rink and the winter garden which will house Alex Janvier’s treasure “Iron Foot Place”, and the office towers and residential towers and shops and . . . . and when I see all the construction workers busy as bees, supporting their families and building infrastructure for the future of the people of Edmonton — when I see all that activity coming from regular working people very gainfully employed in a time of economic downturn — I’m sorry, but I don’t see a playground for millionaires. I see a pretty wise investment in art, in sport, in infrastructure, in employment, and in social cohesion.
I admit, I have concerns about the impacts on the homeless and the less advantaged, on the Boyle Street Co-op and other inner-city institutions — yes, institutions, every bit as much such as the AGA, the RAM, The Citadel, or any other bit of our civic structure — I worry about the loss of the bus depot . . .
But, seriously: in a time of economic recession, thousands of ordinary people, largely union members, are employed building infrastructure as workplaces for thousands of ordinary people, largely union members, and some (on the left and the right) are still doing the “playground for millionaires” song and dance.
Strange bedfellows, you guys.
I think I’ll hang with the regular peeps who are bringing home the bacon by building a neat place for sport and art and music and fun and modern space for other peeps to work and bring home the bacon.
Yeah, Ice District is a crappy name, but it’s a good thing for Edmonton’s working people.
How about we who are working and have homes stop whining about phony “millionaires’ playgrounds” (who exactly, I ask you, is happily paying hard earned money to watch the millionaires play?) and start working on homes for our homeless neighbours? Like hockey? Spend three periods volunteering at a homeless shelter. Donate the price of a ticket — or a season ticket — to the Hope Mission. Like rock concerts? Skip one and give the ticket price to the Bissell Centre.
Venting on Facebook or Twitter or whatever is cheap — I know: I do it all the time, I’m doing it now.
Making a difference takes work. And a whole big load of ordinary people are working on the (horribly named) Edmonton Ice District.
And they’re making a difference.