The Ringling Bros. finally agreed to retire their elephant act from the circus last week, and captive elephants will no longer lumber into the centre ring to perform unnatural tricks, under threat of the hook to ensure compliance. This happened in the same year that the elephantine marbled "whited sepulchre" of the Anvil Centre, prodded by political egos, lumbered onto the Columbia Street stage dragging its cost overruns, debts and empty tower like the chains of Marley's Ghost excoriating the sins of city council's past. In its wake, The Anvil Centre sucks business away from private enterprise and money from citizen taxpayers with the inevitability and strength of the black hole at the centre of New Westminster's universe.
New Westminster's too-big-to fail "iconic" show palace remains a cold and empty mausoleum - an elephant's graveyard awaiting other politicians, whose times have yet to come, to join former Mayor Wright, identified on the shiny plaque that bears their names. Those shiny shovels that heralded its sod-turning can now be recycled to shovel operating cash, for years to come, into the pit of its orphaned parking stalls.
If you strike this anvil base with the hammer of reality, the ringing you hear will echo through the empty halls of the office tower for years to come as this excess of commercial space fails to draw paying tenants. As a result, the river of tax revenues contemplated is reduced to a trickle in the dry bed of empty promises. All of this was foretold by the developer who sharpened his pencil and deserted the project, with a wheelbarrow full of cash as a parting gift, recognizing the wisdom of that old adage that if the elephant gets a cold, the developer would catch pneumonia. Even a flock of Segals, flying in to feed on the scraps, has yet to procure any tenants. A layer of guano coats their contract commitments, despite a committed flood of FOI requests to remove the resulting layer of secrecy. The chamber of secrets at city hall remains locked.
In a city whose better restaurants are either struggling or closing, the death-star of fine dining at the Anvil Centre, if ever realized, may yet nudge more of them to oblivion - trampled by a hungry elephant bloated by a "living-wage" diet.
So, no retirement refuge for New Westminster's white elephant - same circus, same clowns. It remains not earning its keep, shackled to its anvil being fed taxpayer money, shovelled by the ton, trumpeting as loudly as a protesting politician and producing piles of steaming residue smelling like yesterday's rotting dreams and tomorrow's unrealized extravagant vision.
E.C. "Ted" Eddy, Coquitlam