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Parking of the people, by the people, for the people

At the risk of eliminating myself before my Campagne de Fous ever really gets off the ground, I'd just like to say the world would be a much better place today if World War II had never happened.

At the risk of eliminating myself before my Campagne de Fous ever really gets off the ground, I'd just like to say the world would be a much better place today if World War II had never happened. Now, if that seems just a bit facile to you, stay with me, it gets better.

Setting aside the various salient bits of geopolitical economics leading up to that war, it all came about because a humiliated, ostracized, financially ruined nation hitched its wagon to an imbecilic madman who promised to make them proud, strong and pure again. If this sounds vaguely reminiscent of the City of Toronto electing Rob Ford as mayor, well....

World War II was bad for many reasons. Lots of people died, the U.S. and Great Britain got into bed with Josef Stalin, thus setting the stage for the Cold War that followed, Japan got nuked and France refused to come to grips with what a powerless nation it had become, thus setting the stage for Vietnam.

It wasn't all bad though. With all the soldiers jumping out of airplanes under the arresting canopy of silk parachutes, nylon got a real boost, setting the stage for both the plastics revolution that dominates our lives and landfills to this day and, of course, pantyhose which, come to think of it, probably belong in the bad things paragraph. It was also a boon for army surplus stores well into the 1960s.

But the worst thing to come out of WWII, the real tragedy of that failure of diplomacy, the true spectre of worldwide destruction, was millions and millions of horny ex-GIs. They came home to a very receptive army of horny women. And with so many more women than surviving men, well, even the really ugly, loser guys got lucky. Since scientists were all working on making better plastics instead of inventing the birth control pill and because all the horny guys and gals boinked like bunnies, they produced the real reason the world would be much better place today if not for the war: the Baby Boomers.

From their tireless loins issued forth wave after wave of apocalyptic, mindless consumers, boys and girls who grew up and went on to ruin the world in ways that silly German house painter could only dream of.

Name any current ill threatening the destruction of homo sapiens - not to mention countless other species - and chances are pretty good you can lay it at the feet of Boomers. Environmental degradation? Boomers. World economic collapse? Boomers. Underfunded pensions? Boomers. The obesity epidemic? Boomers. Justin Bieber? Okay, you got me there but I'll bet if we follow the string far enough back we'll find Boomers lurking behind his bangs.

The sad fact is we've pretty much done to the world what our dads did to our moms to bring this whole mess about in the first place. There are days I'm certain the best thing that could happen to the world would be for Boomers to just drift quietly into a coma of impoverished retirement and spend our last days sucking Big Gulps of Jim Jones Kool-Aid while watching reruns of Star Trek and The Beverly Hillbillies. Just compost us and hope the resulting land doesn't become a toxic bullshit dump.

Having said that, in for a penny, in for a pound. The Campagne de Fous lurches onward with this week's instalment: Plank #2 - Pay Parking.

Pay parking in Whistler has become a cause célèbre ... whatever that is. Phase I, launched last spring, was so poorly conceived one would be torturing the word to call it planned. Its logic brought to mind the infinite monkey theorem which, as we all recall, posits that a monkey randomly hitting the keys of a typewriter - whatever that is - for an infinite amount of time will eventually reproduce the works of Shakespeare. Fortunately, our municipal leaders pulled the plug on Phase I long before infinity; it just seemed to last that long.

Phase II is what we've got currently. I believe if we were to find that long-lived monkey and a typewriter and give him enough time, he might peck out a rough description of exactly what the difference is between Phase I and Phase II. Then we'd all know.

Phase III is a work in progress, progress being loosely defined as waiting around for a group of people you already know hate pay parking to tell you they hate pay parking so you can ignore them and get on with it.

Pay parking a la Max, begins with an exercise in democracy. Since Whistleratics hate paying for parking every time they go to the village, let's have a referendum. We have a rough idea in mind of how much we need to get from parking - and we're already more than a little pregnant here - so the choice is to pay for parking or raise it through property taxes. Question: I'm willing to see my residential/business taxes increase by $X in order to keep parking "free." Yes or no. Only taxpayers get to vote.

Now that that's been voted down, how do we get on with a more palatable version of pay parking. First ditch the machines. Replace them with attendant-personed booths at both entrances to the day skier lots and the conference centre. You park, you pay. You park an hour, you pay very little, say, a loonie. Park two hours, pay a twoonie. Park longer than that and you start paying a lot more, about the same daily rate as is currently in place.

Why attendants? Even surly attendants are better than indifferent machines. But the real bonus is the parking ticket. If the businesses in town are really worried that pay parking is driving shoppers away, let 'em offer to stamp the ticket. One stamp, one hour of free parking; two stamps, two hours. No more. At the end of the month, businesses get charged for the number of their stamps collected. The meteoric rise in sales should more than offset the charge.

As a bonus, people leaving the lots will do so more slowly. Traffic pouring onto the highway will be naturally metered and move more smoothly.

Is there a locals' rate? Of course not. But there is a locals' pass. One month, three months, six months, a year, all at a reasonable price and all with FastLane ingress/egress. Oh yeah, and good at all muni lots, not just the ones at the end of the Melamed Traverse.

Heck, we can even throw in some village animation, say a couple of Japa Dog vendors and Foxy Moron playin' tunes over a low-power FM band everyone can tune into and shake their booty while they remove their booties.

Now if we can just get the MotherCorp to play along and stop ginning the game with their version of "free" parking, we can drive the price down even further and stop using property taxes to subsidize Whistler Transit at the obscene rates we're all paying.

Parking to the people.