An appreciation of perspective

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I spent a bit more than a week in the Okanagan this month, where there are perspectives worth appreciating as we deliberate on issues in our community.

We can where we sit in Vancouver forget that the resource sector has a vast meaning in its midst, and that without it there is a much more frail economy, far fewer jobs and opportunities, and a great difficulty in transforming ways of life with the relative ease that cities can.

It doesn’t take much to crater. In place after place I was told how the vital tourism business this year had taken a hit because of the spring flooding of the lake and the summer forest fires. Even though the former was long gone, even though the latter was long distant, they were enough to keep many away this summer and to put a serious dent in the local economy. The vineyards wonder, too, what effect the smoke from the fires will have on soil and grapes, just as the farmers not far away wonder about the effect on their capacity to sell cattle. Already this year the vaunted peaches are in greater demand because the growing season has been distorted.

Which is all to say that, when we look at issues, we need to also examine their intersection with those elsewhere. It can be all too easy to forget that others depend on what we at times decry: the cyclical resource and tourism businesses do not have our resilience in many cases.

Which is also not to say that we ignore the need to transform, only that in our city we have a distinct perspective that wouldn’t be shared with those I saw in their four-by-fours coming for a break from Alberta or from the north into the Okanagan. We need to keep our minds open to them.