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The following is presented as part of The Columbian’s Opinion content, which offers a point of view in order to provoke thought and debate of civic issues. Opinions represent the viewpoint of the author. Unsigned editorials represent the consensus opinion of The Columbian’s editorial board, which operates independently of the news department.
News / Opinion / Editorials

In Our View: Cheers & Jeers: Housing help; missing pancakes

The Columbian
Published: May 27, 2023, 6:03am

Cheers: To tax dollars at work. The Vancouver City Council has approved plans for the Affordable Housing Fund for 2023-24, awarding $4.2 million to four local organizations. The fund was created by a voter-approved property tax levy in 2016, and voters agreed last year to expand the fund over the next decade.

The objective is to build and preserve low-income housing, and to work with developers and nonprofits to assist residents who are housing insecure. The existence of the fund also helps the city in securing grants from other sources. While homelessness has become more visible since the fund was established, the situation would be more critical without the investment from the public. This week’s announcement of the awards allows taxpayers to follow the money and see where their dollars are going.

Jeers: To no more pancakes. The free pancake breakfast that traditionally has kicked off the Clark County Fair will be discontinued this year, according to fair organizers and event sponsor Fred Meyer. Instead, Fred Meyer will donate $10,000 to Clark County Food Bank and provide food donation barrels at the entrances on opening day, which is Aug. 4.

The breakfast has been a popular event for the past 17 years, with volunteers and staff serving up some 30,000 pancakes. Cheers go to Fred Meyer and corporate parent Kroger for their continued generosity toward the Clark County Food Bank, but jeers are warranted for the end of a popular tradition. The breakfast will be missed by many fairgoers.

Cheers: To a welcoming sign. Pink and orange sunpatiens and white alyssum will greet drivers along Interstate 5 this summer. The flowers have been laid out at the “Welcome to Washington” sign that reminds people that they have crossed the state line.

In recent years, Vancouver officials have worked to make the city more welcoming. The Waterfront Vancouver development offers an enticing view while crossing the bridge, and the intersection of Sixth and C streets — the first thing many visitors see — has been refurbished. After all, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.

Jeers: To bridge lifts. Authorities remind us that temporary closures of the Interstate 5 Bridge are more frequent this time of year. That is because the spring runoff has raised the water level of the Columbia River, leaving less room for vessels to safely pass under the bridge.

We also are reminded of the untenable situation of having a drawbridge for a major interstate crossing. Interstate 5 runs for 1,381 miles between Canada and Mexico, and the only stoplight can be found on the bridge between Washington and Oregon. Maritime law gives priority to river traffic over highway traffic — except during designated rush hours — often leaving drivers to sit in their cars and wait for a boat to pass.

Cheers: To sharing notes. The Hazel Dell Parade of Bands entertained onlookers for the 57th time last week, with more than 25 local marching bands joined by parade floats, classic vehicles and other standard parade attractions.

Organized by the Hazel Dell Salmon Creek Business Association, the parade celebrates Americana with a march down Northeast Hazel Dell Avenue. The theme this year was “Sounds of Freedom” — a salute to grand marshals Lt. Col. Bob Knight and Lt. Col. Royce Pollard, retired past commanders of the Vancouver Barracks. Knight also served as president of Clark College, and Pollard was mayor of Vancouver. But, as indicated by the event’s name, the bands are always the highlight.