Dear Winnipeg

A Fun Blog About Infrastructure and Municipal Finance

Letting the Monkeys Run the Zoo

Dear Winnipeg,

I was all set to write to you about the Employment and Commercial Lands Study, the Residential Infill Strategy, OurWinnipeg and the Complete Communities Strategy.

Then I realized that would be mind-numbingly boring, so I decided against it. [Lucky you!]

Instead, I’m going to talk to you about my kids. [Apparently, hearing about other people’s kids is also mind-numbingly boring, but obviously, my kids are the exception! Lucky you!]

Every night at dinner, my wife and I serve our kids a plate full of broccoli and cupcakes to nourish their growing bodies. [Canada Food Guide? Never heard of it…]

In case it’s not obvious, the broccoli is mixed use infill development.

And much to our surprise, the kids always eat all of the cupcakes we serve, but barely ever touch the broccoli, despite the fact that OurFamily‘s Complete Dinners Strategy prioritizes broccoli as the most sustainable dinner option. Not to mention, the cupcakes are costing us a fortune.

Unfortunately, the market doesn’t seem to have much appetite for broccoli, given the abundance of easy-to-eat cupcakes.

I mean, to be fair, any time one of our kids actually wants to eat the broccoli, we don’t exactly make it simple for them.

If they want to eat a piece of broccoli that is slightly larger than its neighbouring broccolis, or one that is closer to the edge of the plate than the others, we make them give us part of their allowance for the week, and then we have a family meeting to let the rest of the kids present arguments against letting their sibling eat the broccoli.

“You’re trying to destroy the very fabric of our dinner table!”, one will say.

“This broccoli is not in character with the rest of our supper!”, the other will chime in.

“I’m not against broccoli. I just think it’s better suited to OTHER dinner tables”, the first one will add.

The real fun happens when one of our kids wants to take a larger broccoli and split it in half so they can have two separate pieces of broccoli.

In those cases, they often invite a bunch of their friends to join in, and some of the neighbour kids too. These family meetings can often last 12 hours or more, late into Friday evenings.

“If we let this happen, the next thing you know, they’ll want to eat carrots and zucchini too! Where does it end?”, my daughter’s friend will conclude.

It’s enough to make my wife and I want to consider a moratorium on broccoli.

But of course, we know that’s not the right course of action. We WANT them to eat broccoli, we know it’s good for them. Plus we’ve done the math, it’s good for our pocketbooks too!

We just don’t want to have 12-hour family meetings about it.

So what to do?

One idea we had is to create a Dinner Planning Commission to decide what we should be serving every night. The kids could all be appointed to it. That way, my wife and I don’t have to be involved in those dreadfully long family meetings anymore.

But despite our newfound leisure time, is putting the monkeys in charge of the zoo a good idea? Likely not. We’d just end up with a cupcake-eating and pooh-flinging frenzy! [Or worse, vice-versa!]

We’ve already determined that eating only cupcakes is bankrupting us. And all the expert nutritionists tell us that broccoli is the sustainable way out of this. So how do we get the kids to eat it?

Well, obviously, the real issue is that the dining by-laws we have in place conflict with the Complete Dinners Strategy we’ve adopted. [Yes, I realize I’m really stretching the metaphor here… sorry!]

So the solution is to take away the barriers to eating broccoli that are in our dining by-laws.

First, you can make broccoli more delicious and satisfying by making investments in broccoli upgrades, like butter, garlic, salt, pepper, and mmm… melted cheese.

Then, let the kids eat, by right, any broccoli that is, say, 50% larger than neighbouring broccolis. Allow broccoli splitting altogether, down to a minimum size (without any special boundary conditions). And if a kid wants to eat up to 3 broccolis in a single bite? Good, just let them! That’s what we wanted anyways!

No family meetings necessary.

And we might want to consider a moratorium on cupcakes. Just sayin’…

Love,

Elmwood Guy