I am relatively new to the valley, arriving last August from the Sunshine Coast.
Let me start by saying that I love it here … it’s so green, so friendly and when I first arrived, I thought so progressive! (And the customer service everywhere I went was outstanding!)
So, a year later, I’m still loving it. I’ve volunteered a bit, engaged in some amazing community events, and met some wonderful humans.
Here’s the rub…
Much like the Sunshine Coast (and, frankly, I suspect everywhere), the Comox Valley has a much more vocal group of naysayers than supporters — for everything.
So, here’s my vocal support for Car Free Day.
What makes me curious is how so many people can get up in arms about a little four-hour interruption to their Sunday afternoon, when there’s a big likelihood they were either:
a) not going to be home, or
b) not going to be going anywhere, and thus, not going to be interrupted, inconvenienced or otherwise bothered by it should they choose not to participate.
The success and enthusiasm of Car Free Days elsewhere is amazing — backed and embraced by merchants, residents and government alike (of course, there are always detractors to everything, everywhere.
If huge, bustling, commerce-friendly neighbourhoods like Commercial Drive, the West End, and Main Street in Vancouver can embrace annual car-free days, why can’t our little community do so?
Do you think Main Street — a large street that is dedicated to commerce — would put up with a car free day if it weren’t good for business? Not a chance. In fact, they close 16 blocks of it for an amazing eight-hour street party that thousands of people attended.
Our local car-free organizer, Andrew Gower, has emphasized that this isn’t an anti-car, anti-big oil day — it’s a “get out and enjoy your neighbourhood and your community without your vehicle” day! He’s encouraging people to put up lemonade stands, and garage sales, and play music, and haul out the street hockey gear.
What could possibly be so wrong with that?
How about we take this opportunity to celebrate this wonderful community and come together on something instead of finding what’s wrong about it?
And, by the way, my access to home will be interrupted. I live in Tin Town, so with both 26th and Willemar closed, you can bet it’ll be a bit inconvenient should I need to drive somewhere.
But I’ve had plenty of notice of the possible four-hour inconvenience in my life and can plan around it. And God willing I don’t need emergency service, but Andrew has made provision for that.
Car Free Day is not meant to punish people who depend on their cars.
It is meant to create an afternoon of celebration and community within the reaches of our walkable neighbourhood.
Lighten up. Pull out the card table and invite your neighbours ’round for a beer and a game of rummy. Put the kids pool in the front yard. Organize a garage sale (and let people come by later in the evening to pick up the big stuff), or a badminton tournament, or a garage band contest, or an art exhibit.
As with everything, it’ll only be as hard as you make it. And it’s easy to make it easy.