Pulled from local blog andrewkurjata.ca
I understand you’re going through a bit of a phase. It seems the Economist magazine described you as “mind-numbingly boring” recently and, well, you didn’t take it well. Not just the mayor, but the premier, have had to comfort you, and commentators have penned pieces firing back, even at the magazine itself.
First of all, let me just observe that this feels like the scene where the straight-A student has a minor meltdown because they get a C in gym class or something. I mean, you’re consistently ranked one of the best places in the world to live and here you are freaking out because of literally two sentences in a minor masthead. Speaking as someone where this
was prominently printed in a national magazine, I’ll admit it’s hard to take your concerns all that seriously. But let me be the John Bender to yourClaire Standish and teach you how to handle it when a magazine calls you a bad name.
Step one: don’t lash out
We might be a little late on this one, but it’s worth remembering: you’ll never get better if you don’t think there’s anywhere to improve. When Maclean’s called Prince George the most dangerous city in Canada, people got upset. We tried things like changing the parameters. Sure, we might have more crime per capita than anywhere else said the mayor (paraphrasing), but the important thing is how many volunteers we have!
I’m not arguing, having volunteers is great, but if crime is an issue it doesn’t really solve things. Likewise, just because you think the Economist is boring, it doesn’t mean you have more places for garage bands to practice their new songs. Look inward. Is there something you could be doing better? If not, great. But if there is, try and improve it.
Prince George being most dangerous had to do with a number of other factors (including overflow from gang jostling down in Vancouver), but the RCMP and city started looking at what they could do better and through a variety of outreach and strategic programs, things turned around and there has been a decline in serious crimes. And we still have lots of volunteers.
The point is this: you’re a big city. You’re going to receive some criticism. That matters less than how you handle it.
Step two: recognize you probably care about this waaaay more than anyone else does
Honestly, I’m not sure I would have even heard about this thing if it weren’t for Vancouverites collectively freaking out about it. Do you really think that people are going to stop coming to the seawall based on this thing? It’s the same deal with Prince George. The first year we were called most dangerous, there was a big news conference and days of press. Second time, similar reaction, but more muted. By the time the third year came around, the city basically shrugged its shoulders. Now the ranking has gone away. Last year, Initiatives Prince George asked people across Canada what comes to mind when they hear “Prince George” and, yeah, “crime” was on there but so was “friendly” and “community”. It’ll be OK.
Step three: haters gonna hate
It’s time to make like Taylor Swift and shake if off. Over the last few years, various community organizations have embarked on campaigns showcasing the benefits of coming here. And rather than target people who are thinking to themselves “geez, Prince George is so dangerous” they’re looking for people who are interested in the lifestyle Prince George has to offer.
Put it this way: ever go to a party where everyone’s having a good time except that one dude going on about what a terrible party it is? Why try and change his mind? Whenever someone comes at me about how they would never want to live in Prince George it’s like great! I won’t have to deal with you! If “Gulliver” doesn’t want to come to Vancouver, who’s really losing out?
Step four: make your own headlines
Prince George got national media coverage again this year when it hosted the 2015 Canada Winter Games. People from all across the country came to the city to discover that not only did they not get stabbed, they had a pretty OK time, too! Already, more major events are showing interest in the city because of what was pulled off earlier this year, and national press showcased a side of Prince George most of the rest of Canada had never seen.
So get at it Vancouver! Show the world you know how to party. Is there maybe some sort of major international sporting event you could hold next winter? Something like maybe the- oh, you did that already?
Well, maybe you can get the royal family to name a baby after you or something.
Andrew Kurjata: local author, radio personality, journalist, and audio enthusiast