Swan Lake Elegy

Last week Neil Young was in town to protest the destruction of our old growth forests. I wish he had come to my neighbourhood. Joni Mitchell has just been honoured by the US Library of Congress with the Gershwin Prize. At the gala ceremony they sang Big Yellow Taxi. However, despite how much the artists protest, we are still paving paradise for parking lots and luxury townhouses. At one time these houses might have been pink stucco, but now they have moved on to a soft palette of muted tones in beautiful fake wood siding.

This development is coming soon to my neighbourhood. In order to build it, they spot zoned 3 lots and passed a special bylaw for the developer. 50 trees will be cut down, despite the protests of the entire neighbourhood. This site is between a small lake and a hill that together comprise a nature sanctuary, and designated bird sanctuary. The official local area plan does not identify this corner as suitable for high density housing, but the city planning department chose to ram this through without consulting the public in any form. Each unit will sell for around one million. The rationale for this is that we have a housing crisis.

I am tempted to name the councillors who voted for this, but instead I offer them a poem, and hope they come to their senses before it is too late. (Desperado. How I miss the Eagles and good music…..)


salesmen pitch the goods
with well worn tropes
selling a new Rome
anthills for humans
bigger and better traffic jams

sitting on my butt for five hours
listening to fellow citizens protesting in vain
environmental destruction
bylaws flaunted
common sense trampled
I was thinking
where are the poets?

we are too busy digging out
from under the mountain of bullshit
to notice that the world is being destroyed
strictly according to plan as the chainsaws whine
our oaks will crumple to the earth
making way for the missing middle
but the trees by the shoreline mansions
and in the forests of Broadmead
will still wave softly in the wind

life is short
you might not live to see tomorrow
better spend all the money you can borrow
to hell with a few trees
when I get my townhouse next to the nature sanctuary
I will have my epiphany
And then I will shout out
 Save The Trees
They Belong To Me


Filed under Birds, Philosophy, Poetry, Uncategorized

5 responses to “Swan Lake Elegy

  1. Margaret

    Drawings are always deceptive. I greatly doubt that there will be a sidewalk with a boulevard on Sevenoaks or Rainbow.

  2. Connie Hrycun

    Oh my goodness. This poem really reflects so much of what we’ve been fighting for and fighting against. Thank you Nathan.

  3. Anthony

    “Winners never quit, and quitters never win” (attributed to Vince Lombardi, a football coach with the Green Bay Packers). And the neighbourhood has not quit.
    Abstract Developments would be wise to redeem social licence and surrender some density leaving Saanich Council to answer for the injustice it has imposed on the environment and on an entire neighbourhood.

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