The real worry about the approval of the City of Vancouver’s bike share program this week isn’t the fact that the city is dumping – sorry, investing – $6-million of taxpayers’ money into the scheme, along with another half a million dollars in annual operating costs. Nor am I losing sleep over the fact that Alta, the company which will own and operate the program, has yet to come up with a sponsor rich enough to pay for half of the remaining cost of the program. I am confident that there is a corporation with local roots willing to shell out $8-million to put its logo on fenders and baskets.
After all, we’re talking about sharing! Bikes! And helmets! What could go wrong?
Plus, the city will get 50 per cent of the profits when the cash starts rolling in.
No, the use of local tax dollars instead of, say, a federal grant or an Indiegogo campaign is not my issue. My concern is that this is just the first step in this council’s share-crazy agenda.
You know it’s coming. You can smell it. Not since the 1960s has Vancouver felt more like a biodynamic, Esperanto-speaking, off-the-grid Oregon commune.
We have communal plots of city land where citizens are encouraged to grow their own food. We have community kitchens in community centres where recipes are shared and homegrown food is prepared. We have social housing. And seriously, what could feel more Soviet than our public transit system?
All of this, though, is just the beginning. Every time we roll over and accept this idea of sharing, the wedge is driven deeper, and we invite more sharing.
It will begin innocently enough, with a declaration that umbrellas can no longer be considered private property. They will belong to everyone. Take one from the stand where someone has left it and deposit it at your destination. We practically do it already.
When the city started talking about a car-share program a few years ago, people rolled their eyes. “It could never happen,” they thought. And yet here we are today, with fleets of the things used by people who have cleverly disguised their Marxist tendencies. But really, how big is the leap from subscribing to a car-share club to a city-run mandatory car share program? Why should anyone actually be allowed to own their own car?
Imagine having to leave your car unlocked, the keys inside, so that anyone could drive it anywhere they liked. Going to IKEA? Grab that pickup over there. Hot date? That roadster looks pretty sweet. Sure, it sounds crazy now, but it’s coming.
From that, well, it’s another short hop to home-sharing. We already have people “co-housing.” How long until the city uses National Household Survey information cross-referenced with Smart Meter data to determine that a third bedroom is being used as an office or a TV room, and demands that we accommodate “the underhoused.”
Don’t even get me started on the second-homeless. Vacation properties sit empty and unused through most of the year; a potential sharing bonanza.
It’s a fact that park space is at a premium in parts of the city. Many condominium and apartment dwellers do not have easy access to green space to nourish their spirits and promote wellness. Which is why mandatory yard sharing will be next on the list. The lawns and gardens of single-family homeowners will become public green spaces for all to enjoy. This will eventually be expanded to duplexes and common areas of townhouse complexes, with the sole ownership of a barbecue also declared illegal.
The health benefits of pets have been widely documented. But not everyone is in a position to own a dog or cat. The solution, obviously, is a pet-share. With the introduction of “Block-Dogs” everyone will get a chance to feel the unconditional love of a pet, as they communally share the responsibility of its welfare and upbringing.
Finally, there will be the city’s new “Blame-Share” program – where all residents of a neighbourhood assume responsibility for what used to be the responsibility of the city.
Litter on the streets? Well, pick it up! Garbage cans too full? Maybe you should have thought about that before you bought that popsicle that needs to be unwrapped.
Traffic speeding through that school zone? Organize a community watch to slow it down.
Crackheads in your park? Get everyone together to paint a colourful mural full of positive messages to make them feel unwelcome.
I know; some of this is already here. The rest? Well it’s not a giant leap, really.
Mark my words, Tio estas hundo.
Stephen Quinn is the host of On the Coast on CBC Radio One, 690 AM and 88.1 FM in Vancouver. @cbcstephenquinn