Coffee with readers and letter writers is one of the highlights of my week here at the Nanaimo Daily News.
When we first offered the get together, our goals were simple: Get out of the office and into the community, where the stories are. It would be a time to meet new people and hopefully obtain some leads for stories and thoughts from anyone and everyone about what we have covered, and should look into.
It has exceeded our expectations by far. One particular meeting, we gleaned nine different story/article ideas from participants. We've received some amazing insight and tips regarding stories that have become big issues in Nanaimo.
We've moved it around the community, to make sure we're available in different neighbourhoods and encourage new people to come out. We have some regular participants, but we continue to have new people come out, and the conversation is always lively.
For example, last week's gathering included discussion about having political parties participate at the civic level. Slightly different than the term "slate," it was thought that emphasizing "team" would be more palatable.
Teamwork, on council? What a novel concept. As it is now, nobody knows for sure who their council teammates will be until the ballots are cast, meaning a virtual mixed bag of interests sitting at the table after each and every election. No wonder there are log jams on many issues.
We talked about the possibility of having a modified ward system introduced, where four councillors would be elected at large, and one each from four wards, or quadrants of the city, to ensure representation from all areas.
We chatted about letters to the editor, global warming, smart meters, and pedestrians not using cross walks.
Because of that discussion, I've been paying extra attention while driving to see if it is true. Sure enough, it is. On one stretch of Wakesiah Avenue, I noted two groups of two people moseying across the street, in no obvious hurry to get to the other side and oblivious to vehicles fore and aft.
Their jaywalking was even more annoying, as in both instances, they were less than 50 feet from cross walks, painted recently with bright white paint.
I've noticed that in recent years, pedestrians seem to carry more of a sense of entitlement to the roads than ever. Sidewalks and cross walks are specifically there for walkers and scooters. As one coffee buddy said her father told her, that only those who pay for the roads through taxes should drive on them.
It would be interesting to see the results if the RCMP started issuing tickets for jaywalking again, in the name of public safety. While this seems to be a "petty" offence, something positive happens in a chain reaction when the rule of law is upheld. New York City started their resurgence and return to being a safer place when the cops started with the small stuff.
All that from one coffee time!
COFFEE TIME: This afternoon, (Thursday) 3 p.m. at Country Grocer on Bowen Road. Come and share your thoughts about the Daily News and Nanaimo.
Contact managing editor Mark A. MacDonald at 250-729-4224 or email: MaMacDonald @nanaimodailynews.com
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