22 November 2013

Perhaps there is a city council dumber than Toronto's. Who knew?

The city council of Vancouver has enacted a by law that will ban the use of doorknobs on new buildings, including private homes, which will go into effect by March of 2014. The new law is not retroactive and will not force owners of old buildings and houses to replace their doorknobs, although council will be replacing the old (and possibly valuable) Art Deco doorknobs with door handles and levers to make them more accessible. Also, council has mandated that every new home should be outfitted with plug ins for electric cars, whether or not the future owners will have or even plan to have one.

The issue of the car charging stations is interesting. I am somewhat green and I find myself quite excited about the recent breakthroughs in electric car technology. builders have broken through the old range limitations and are now making cars that have ranges of almost five hundred kilometres or three hundred miles. Electrics are now viable. But here's the thing: they don't all use the same chargers and hookups. Hopefully council has avoided being that dumb and mandated something that can get around this problem, but even so, the technology is changing very rapidly. These hookups could be outdated and replaced by charge pads embedded in the driveway, which will also be outdated before long.

The doorknob issue is something I find a little more troubling, which is odd because it is trivial. On the one hand, what does it matter? Making all buildings universally accessible is hard to argue against, but council is making arguments that it's even better for normal people as it's easier to use the lever when you're trying to come in with your arms full of groceries and whatnot, and there's the rub: they're now telling me what's better for me. That's one of the attitudes that I am finding more and more prevalent among professional politicians, particularly but not exclusively those on the left: they know better than I do. They know what medicines and health care I need better than I do. They know how to keep me safer than I do. They know how to better spend my money than I do, and now they know better than I do what is good for my own home.

This has been going along for a long time. They have made decisions on a much larger and more important scale, against which no one argued. No one argued when building codes were introduced for the purpose of making our homes safer, or requiring homes in areas prone to hurricanes to have one kind of reinforcement, while those in earthquake zones to have another. No one argued because they would have been foolish to do so. No one argued about regulations requiring homes to be more fireproof and fire resistant, because they would have been foolish to do so. These were life and death issues, and people were grateful for someone looking out for them. But this is not a life or death issue. If I am building my own home, and I want to use my collection of ornate bronze Victorian doorknobs in my new home, that should be my own business, and not something council has a say in. I may accept, reluctantly, that my new home has to have some form of accessibility at least on the main floor, but don't come and tell me how your brilliant idea will be better for me in the long run. That's just insulting.

Vancouver, you want to get rid of doorknobs? Start with the ones on your city council.


Patience said...

My dh wants to buy a Tesla for his next car so I guess we'll be putting in a plug in the garage. (we have a Prius now; the small gas tank part electric cheap to run type) I guess if the new business takes off (and it's going well) we'll find out how many public plug ins there are. (the new Tesla does have decent range but not unlimited)
Also I like vintage doorknobs.

Bear said...

Oh I'd love a Tesla. The range is increasing, and, even better, the president of the company has promised that within a couple of years they shall have an entry level car in the $20,000-30,000 range. I can't afford even that, but it's still great.

But there are also other companies out there doing amazing things. Electric cars are becoming a viable option.