Monday, December 17, 2012

Hirising the Countryside



A recent Council meeting in our bucolic and largely rural township discussed planning progress on major developments at the southern end where we edge the 'big smoke' that is widely known as the Greater Toronto Area. It was refreshing to hear my county councillor wonder aloud about the logic of government policy that seeks to press ever higher housing densities onto rural community developments. He pointed out that he had yet to meet someone who planned to move up here to live in high-density dwellings! As a resident of a nearby once-historic township for over 40 years, I saw a lot of poor decision-making around the preservation of social continuity.  I now fear that much of what is socially and historically meaningful will be lost in what is being developed hereabouts under the pressure of blanket policies forced upon our town and mandating increasing density and industrial / retail space.  

Urban planning guru Jane Jacobs may have got it right for cities, but a New Urbanist strategy for our still-remote byways, small villages, spacious prime farmland and seemingly endless treed hills is nonsensical. If the price of rapid population growth is the disappearance of a sense of place and the past in once-cohesive communities as happened within one generation where I last lived, what hope is there for social consensus down the years?

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