Saturday, 3 November 2012


A neighbour got caught by a City leaf control officer. She was raking  leaves from the gutter onto the grassy boulevard in front of her home on King Edward Avenue.  She tearfully explained that there is not enough space in her Garden Waste bin now that the City allows us to compost household waste. 

"The City," she sobbed, "does not clean up the leaves. Increased density brings  more  cars. The cars  park in the street.  The Street Cleaner can't reach the leaves. We must look after ourselves." 

I tried to console her. "Soon through the blessings of densification, we will have strata councils. They will look after us," I said.  Her tears flowed even more copiously.

For years Dunbarites moved the leaves from the gutter to the grassy knoll. It made us strong. Eventually the City would come along with great machines that took care of it.

The  Anti Dumping Division of the Leaf Accumulation Department  has planted signs on King Edward Blvd. They are also on traffic circles. 

“NO DUMPING LEAVES Bylaw 2849. Maximum Fine $2000."   

I phoned Vancouver 311 and was quickly connected to a Leaf Engineer named Socrates. I asked him whether it was true that bylaw 2849 prohibited home owners from dumping leaves on the centre strip of King Edward Avenue.

"What exactly do you mean by truth?" he asked.

"The correlation between a belief and facts as asserted by Bertrand Russel," I replied.

Socrates explained that this was no longer a valid definition. Vancouver is now linked to the computer developed by D-wave Quantum Computing Company. In quantum terms, a matter can be both true and false simultaneously.

Socrates, the leaf engineer, admitted that the statement on the sign was  sometimes false, but only in the sense that the current bylaw does not actually prohibit moving leaves from one part of city property to another. 

On the other hand, in some dimensions the statement is true.  Also, he explained, that under William James' theory of pragmatism, well-intentioned  misinformation was in the public interest and therefore true.  He suggested I revisit Plato's dialogues. I would learn, he explained, that  In politics great  truths must be built upon a superstructure of myths.   

"For example, "Socrates explained, "Did you know that 40% of all trips into downtown Vancouver were by bicycle? Were you aware that the price of housing has already dropped  by 63.2 % because of the publication of the Mayor's Affordability Task Force Report? Do you realize  that 6 million residents including those yet to be conceived, were involved in the preparation of that report?"

The signs  are  part of the endless natural cycle of life, death and misinformation.

As a result of dialing Vancouver's new 311 line, I have renewed faith in our local government. These signs are false only in the narrow sense that they do not correlate with the Bylaw. (Actually, you can move leaves  from the City owned curb,  and dump them on  the grassy boulevard area, if they fell off a City owned tree on to City Property. Its just that you  can't rake leaves from your own property to the City's. Who is to say that they are not also true in some other place or time? (Like, when snow flakes fall on sidewalks you are in trouble if you do not clear them by 10:00 a.m.)

(see Bylaw 2849 s.  71H. The owner or occupier of real property adjacent to a street, must not allow or permit any earth, rock, stones, trees, logs, stumps or similar substances or things from the property: 

(a) to cave, fall, crumble, slide, accumulate or be otherwise deposited on to a street; or 

(b) to remain on a street. }

1 comment:

  1. Autumn and early winter is also a time for tree and shrub pruning, and for those keen gardeners with a decent sized garden it is well worth while buying a small shredder to chop up your pruning fine enough to assist breakdown on the compost heap.