Just wondering... -
I would be remiss if I neglected to enter the firestorm unleashed by Bryan Borzykowski in a recent issue of MoneySense magazine.
By now, the details of this fray are well known. Borzykowski's article is entitled "Canada's ten worst places to live." The subtitle reads, "These ten towns hold the dubious distinction of landing last on our Best Places to Live list."
The local outcry was immediate and heated. While the subtitle attempts a positive slant, the title itself is negative, no ifs, ands or buts about it. I personally am outraged that my town would be appraised under such a rubric.
I wondered about the identity of the author. According to his online biography, Borzykowski "is a Toronto-based writer, editor and blogger working mainly for business and entertainment publications." Other details follow, but let's stop here. He works for entertainment publications? This speaks volumes. Perhaps his is a weak attempt to entertain readers rather than give them an accurate portrait of Bay Roberts.
An important decision
Fifteen years ago, my wife and I faced an important decision. We were living in this area with my late father. After I snagged employment in St. John's, we knew that, if we settled in Bay Roberts, I would have to drive to and from the capital city five days a week. On the other hand, we could relocate, thereby saving me from commuting.
Our young children had already made friends here. We discussed the matter as a family. Finally, I asked them, "Do you guys want to live here or move to St. John's?" Their response was direct and forceful: "Here! Then, it's settled," Sherry and I concurred. And, we've never regretted our decision, despite the winter storms that I occasionally (?) encountered on my drive.
"I've been everywhere, man..."
The late Johnny Cash used to sing, "I've been everywhere, man. Crossed the desert's bare, man. I've breathed the mountain air, man. Of travel I've had my share, man..."
Admittedly, I haven't been "everywhere, man," but I've been around. As the son of a preachin' man, I lived in Clarke's Beach, Carmanville, Twillingate, Hampden, Port aux Basques and Shearstown. I studied two years in Ontario. As an adult, I have lived in Deer Lake, St. John's, Roddickton, Labrador City, Howley, Makinsons and Country Road. I've been to both Russia and Florida. Now, I regard Bay Roberts as my home. It would take a lot for me to move from here.
Half full or half empty?
There are at least two sides to every story. There are two ways of reading Borzykowski's story. Is the glass half full or half empty? It's a matter of personal perspective.
Half empty: Bay Roberts is the tenth worst place in Canada to live. This is the negative spin.
Half full: Bay Roberts holds the "dubious" distinction of being last on MoneySense's list of Best Places to Live in Canada. This is the positive spin.
I decided to discuss my concerns with my mayor.
A chat with my mayor
"Is the tourism guide on the town's website from 2008?" "Yes," Glenn Littlejohn admitted sheepishly. "It was an oversight on our part, but it still gives relevant information about the town."
"Please comment on high unemployment.
"We are at or below the provincial average, which is significant in our case." Low average household income: "We are above the mean income for the province but, when combined through Borzykowski's census agglomeration, it falls below the mean." Negative population growth rates?
"In the last two censuses, the town maintained its population growth, but in the last census, it grew by 3.4 percent."
Dismal culture industry?
"Our cultural industry is booming."
"Yes, we have crime, but nothing that isn't common to many other towns."
Whether one regards this matter from a positive or negative perspective, it remains inexcusable that, in Littlejohn's words, Borzykowski's "article lacks research, poor journalistic values and no appreciation of the impact articles like this one could have on a town. It is a good example of how technology could destroy a place by using inaccurate information and poor research, and by trying to make a square peg fit a round hole.
"Knowing what liberties Borzykowski took with portraying our town, I wonder what he has done with others. What value is there when one takes no pride in one's work to ensure accurate and correct data?"
I rather like Littlejohn's perspective. "This," he told me, "is an article about the best places in Canada to live. And, we made the list!
"This town can stand with its peers across the country, as evidenced by being two-time national champions in the Winter Light Celebrations, along with our success provincially by being co-winners of the Torngat Awards for environmental stewardship of the Shearstown Estuary with our neighbouring town, Spaniard's Bay."
Oh, I almost forgot... Bay Roberts is the birthplace of one Samuel Alfred Browne Mercer (1879-1969), a scholar who was reputably the only person in the world able to read the hieroglyphics on King Tut's tomb.
Obviously the glass is half full!
Burton K. Janes is a proud resident of Bay Roberts. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org mailto:email@example.com>