Generation X author meets Vancouver mayor in Paris to plug poles named after us
Greetings, City Caucus readers. We've taken a few days off to enjoy the long weekend, and have a few stories in the queue beginning this item.
As many readers will know, we always cast a wary eye on taxpayer-funded international trips by politicians. This is not to say they should not happen – they can have strategic and economic benefits. In her upbeat account of a recent trip to Germany, Frances Bula tries to point out that Gregor Robertson had his travel costs to Europe paid for by a group called the New Cities Foundation. John Rossant, Executive Chairman of Publicis Group and founder of the New Cities Foundation, met with Gregor Robertson and Mike Magee in New York City during a much-referenced April 2010 visit.
Interviewed by Bula on the matter of the trip being sponsored by a third party, my colleague Daniel Fontaine stated, "if mayors are representing their city at a worthwhile event, the city should pay so as to avoid any suggestion of conflict or taking favours".
Also a guest of the New Cities Foundation event in Paris was west coast author and artist Douglas Coupland. Coupland was in attendance to promote his idea of a wireless utility pole called a "V-Pole". According to the press release the "V" stands for Vancouver. The famously media-shy Coupland usually only speaks through email conversations or prepared news statements, making it challenging to drill down for details on this project. What's clear from the series of photos posted on the V-Pole site is that the Mayor of Vancouver endorses the "Vancouver pole". His mug is carefully photoshopped into at least two of the promotional stills, and his staff person Lara Honrado is even provided a role as a member of the pedestrian public.
Considering the controversy all British Columbia cities and municipalities are facing around BC Hydro's Smart Meters, it's surprising that the Generation X author can make a statement like this:
“The wireless data game has changed,” said Coupland. “Data transmission is no longer something scary you don’t want in your back yard. Now you want it directly in front of your house.”
This might be so for many folks, but there do not seem to be any shortage of citizens who fear additional wi-fi bandwidth coming near their homes. In fact, Vancouver city council just approved a motion to support citizens who want to opt-out of the Smart Meters program.
Given the fact the Mayor of Vancouver gave the red carpet treatment to Coupland's Vancouver Pole, including flying all the way to Paris to announce it, you'd guess that the project was a fait accompli. It's only a matter of time before the colour-coded white beacons will start popping up on our streets.
Well, apparently not. According to a report by Vancouver Courier reporter Andrew Fleming, the City is distancing themselves from the Coupland project:
City communications director Wendy Stewart said plans to install V-Poles in Vancouver aren’t on the radar.
“It is certainly an infrastructure that we have to look forward to in the city because it is an emerging need but, in terms of this very specific technology, it is just Douglas Coupland,” said Stewart. “The city has a consultation that is currently taking place with our park board officials, and they are working with Telus to look at how we might integrate electric vehicle charging and cellphone antennas. That is the process that is underway. He is saying ‘Hey look, we should look at how to do this,’ which is a little bit different in what we have currently on the table, but he’s come forward with a concept that is very interesting.”
It's just Doug Coupland, and of course, the Mayor of Vancouver. Is it only a matter of time that the V-Pole will be on a street near you?
– post by Mike