Monuments to failure

The tiny home captured the hearts and minds of Instagram followers years back. 

Too cute for words, all dolled up – staged – as the realtors say. 

Since then, storage containers have factored in as a variation of that theme. We too have seen dozens of videos where sea-cans have undergone a makeover into novel holiday fun-spots or utilitarian homes. The concept seems fun and supports minimalism.

Recently the City of Guelph has expressed great interest in this type of housing. The plan is to provide housing for the homeless of which some require help with addiction issues. There is no argument that something needs to be done, particularly as inclement weather settles in. 

However, being seen to do something, anything in some cases, hardly rates as good public policy. It’s just a stop gap, interim measure that we personally find distasteful and very much a cover-up for years of inaction.

For decades the city dithered on its housing file. One would think a university town would be acutely aware of that need and conversely rental opportunities in general. Instead, the bureaucracy’s efforts – endorsed by numerous terms of council – made it very difficult to construct housing with accessory units.

Multi-unit buildings, apart from condos, never seemed to get the airtime needed. When it did, it was often non-profit entities leading the charge, attempting to meet clearly obvious community needs. Hands-off attitudes brought the city to this point. Homelessness issues, people forced to couch surf and tenants paying far too much of their income towards housing are the result.

Actions underway to permit four-plexes in urban settings seems another desperate bid to avoid making a commitment to institutional government-funded housing.

While some may argue the establishment of modular shantytowns addresses short-term supply, we see these tenements as monuments to failure. To be very clear, that isn’t a slight against those accessing the service, not by a long shot. 

Governments at all levels have failed citizens on the housing file. That the working poor and extremely needy suffer is an embarrassment for a wealthy country like Canada.

Official time signal no more

People tend to like routine. There is comfort in a schedule.

Certainly, that was the case decades ago, working at a neighbour’s farm. Lunch was always at noon and CBC was always on the radio. 

More often than not, the 1pm long dash signaled the end of leisure and was the call to toil. We imagine most young readers will have little clue what the long dash is or was.

Back in 1939, when the practice began, it was meant as a way to officially know the time according to the National Research Council. Since then, generations were able to set time with precision.

According to the New York Times, “The beginning of the long dash indicates exactly 1 o’clock Eastern Standard Time is how it went in its most recent iteration. Several short beeps and then a long tone followed. At that moment, not a second before or a second after, it was 1pm in Toronto (and noon in Winnipeg, 10am in Vancouver — and, delightfully, 2:30pm in Newfoundland).”

While odd that we would quote the Times (perhaps a first for us), the fact this change made it into the Times is news itself.

On Oct. 9, 2023, without fanfare or much said, CBC dropped the time signal. The need to set a watch accurately has been usurped by technology. 

As CBC admitted in the same article, “We share the nostalgia that many people have towards the daily time announcement, the CBC said in a statement. 

“But with all of the different distribution methods CBC/Radio-Canada uses today, we can no longer ensure that the time announcement meets the NRC accuracy standards. The National Research Council provided the CBC with the official time signal.”

This to us is the real story. CBC has become so fragmented and fractured across platforms that components of its brand have been cast to the wind. Being all things to all people has a price and for radio listeners, this is but one cost of that approach.

While not the end of the world and the sun will rise tomorrow, abandoning this iconic CBC daily moment shows that management doesn’t understand its brand very well.