March 28, 2010

Super Duper Natural!

For those of you not from my beloved home province of British Columbia, we had an advertising slogan for many years:

"Super, Natural British Columbia"

Those folks who believed in mysticism and the occult (yeah, there may be one or two out on the coast here) could pretend there was no comma; hikers and outdoorsy types could leave it in; and photographers could have a magazine to keep their pictures in.

(It wasn't our official slogan, which was "Beautiful British Columbia"; a perfectly nice thing to say about one's home, and one that's tough to argue with. Frankly, this place is gorgeous! But I live here, was born here, and choose to remain here. But if rain isn't your thing, you might think otherwise...)

But the Local Liberals (that would be the Conservatives in any other province) decided that the slogan just wasn't obnoxious enough, opting instead for "The Best Place on Earth!"

No, seriously.

There's a petition to stop the province from using the arrogant (and, for a region that relies heavily on tourist income, stupid) phrase going around; but I always prefer to use reasoned and logical argument to back up my points. The shouting and hissy fits come later.

The best reason to return to our old slogan is tag line is simple: it's accurate, and becoming more so every day. What could possibly be less "natural" than someone acting as a caretaker in our provincial parks? Clearing hiking trails of deadfalls; making sure toilets are available to tourists; having firewood available so fewer drunk campers wander into the woods wielding hatchets... You know, the guys who do this sort of thing:

"Park Rangers are responsible for delivering park's programs, protecting park's visitors and resources, and compliance based enforcement, as well as maintenance of parks facilities and equipment."

(Taken from Ministry web site)

All horribly, horribly unnatural I think you'll agree. So they were done away with.

Not all of them, of course! No no, that would be crazy! There are 970 parks and 13.5 million hectares of total protected area to watch, after all: surely there will have to be, say, 50 or so rangers? Yeah, that should do it. After all, if you let all of them go, there could be vandalism, poaching, litter strewn about, crap piling up... And what kind of signal would that send?

Well, never mind! This year, after two years of cuts to staff and services, the province is taking the bold step of increasing park fees for the third time since 2001. Oh, and cutting the budget by another 10%.

But that's okay! As Environment Minister Barry Penner says,

"B.C still has a "fantastic" parks system and attendance was up last year. "We do a visitor satisfaction survey each year and our approval rating is more than 80 per cent," he said."

Which means that they can go to hell for a few years, and who's going to notice, right? Why, 80% is almost an A in school, and who wouldn't be happy with that?

I suggest Minister Penner's not taking all the credit he could be: if cutting the number of Park Rangers in half results in an 80% satisfaction rating, then surely eliminating them completely would produce a rating of 160%! Math doesn't lie!

And then, when all of the protected areas are finally free of any management at all, we can finally call them truly Natural.


posted by Thursday at 3:12 pm


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