Ready for "good enough"?

What constitutes good enough? This is the debate dominating our province and the regional municipality as the public, politicians and mandarins who really run government try to come to grips with our new lack of dollars.

After several years of federal and provincial spending with little regard to long term consequences in terms of operations and maintenance, the “teens” seem destined to be a decade of fewer resources for ego driven, or “world class” projects.

A tangent here – how I hate that phrase – “world class.” I have written extensively on my feeling that “world class” has come to be a meaningless phrase used by those that want large, expensive megaprojects and bully the politicians and financial planners who should know better into giving in to largess.

Expensive projects are exciting, and help create a sense of optimism and energy in a community. Simple big ticket projects are easy to get the media to cover, and easy to explain is palatable sound bites to the public.

The phrase we seem to be hearing more and more is “good enough” and I am glad of it.

I hope that “good enough” means elementary schools of clap board and wood frame, lots of small rec centres people can walk to, based right in their community. I hope “good enough” means maintaining and incrementally improving the vast and expensive existing infrastructure, not the demolition of the old for the sake of the new, because it is new. “Good enough” means meeting the needs of people where they live to a level that is affordable and sustainable.

Far to often have we seen perfectly serviceable buildings replaced with new buildings, in part because politicians feel it makes them look like they are doing their jobs. I suspect that if faced with a $13.5 million bill to renovate St Pats, or a $30 million bill to build Citadel, the NDP would choose the cost effective former, not the wonderful but expensive second choice.

Overall, I am happy to see the new restraint, but the one place that my ideological views come into conflict with my desires is the new central library. Today was the first day I have ever questioned this project. I want it. I love it. I think having a palace of reading and learning in our community is a brilliant idea. However, $55 million is a lot of cash in this day and age, and new doubts have crept into my mind.

Next post, I will discuss how I hope the politicians deal with these new doubts.