Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Out Growing One's Mandate

Out Growing One's Mandate: 'Places to Grow' Vs. 'Places to Eat' & The Ridiculous Proposed Urban Node For the Midland-Penetanguishene Community

December 7, 2010

The Ontario Growth Secretariat
Ministry of Infrastructure
777 Bay Street, 4th Floor, Suite 425
Toronto, ON M5G 2E5
Email: placestogrow@ontario.ca

Attention: Ontario Growth Secretariat and Ministry of Infrastructure,

Re: The Proposed Urban Node For Midland-Penetanguishene

First of all I would like to thank you for your most gracious offer of allowing the public to have this opportunity to voice concerns over the Proposed Amendment 1 for the Simcoe Sub-Area to the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, 2006, under the authority of the Places to Grow Act, 2005. I trust that submissions and concerns made by various means to you will also become available for public perusal at some time in the near future.

I have a concern about the mandate that has been given the Ontario Growth Secretariat and the Ministry of Infrastructure. The Ministry of Infrastructure has incorrectly based our future economic welfare on a worn out - and under the circumstances -completely outrageous template of growth which unfortunately has already repeated itself ad infinitum destroying quiet little farming towns and villages in their wake. Brampton my home town was once such a place only to be replaced today by traffic congestion fueled by an ongoing construction of whats become a massive bedroom community with no places to work for local people. In order to work locals must mount a daily 2.5 to 3 hour journey to places that they can work.

The template of growth, touted traditionally as the model of generating economic prosperity for communities, in reality generates prosperity which only reaches the speculators and developers in most if not all of Ontario's municipalities. Along with the assistance of the un-elected Ontario Municipal Board's magic wand of approval- time and time again, this template of growth has systematically reduced the Province of Ontario's ability to feed itself. That is an emergency in itself as the most arable lands in the world; class 1, 2 and 3 are easily paved over without any regard for the future of the infrastructure needs of these communities and the needs the people they pile into them. Just ask the recent victims who've moved their families into the current urban sprawl of Barrie, Newmarket, Whitby and numerous others.

In many other places around the globe the issue of a community being capable of feeding itself is now considered a community security issue.
Paving over food lands using the template we've always relied upon to generate economic activity should in reality be challenged as the most pressing threat of our time to the healthy future of most of our Ontario communities.

Much of our food today comes to our grocery store shelves by trucks travelling from over 1,300 kilometres away. Does that make sense to anyone but, the truck drivers and the proprietors of the infrastructure and logistics to make that kind of silly event happen all 52 weeks of the year?
Have you people at the Ontario Growth Secretariat and the Ministry of Infrastructure even considered food as a community security issue?

As the Ontario Growth Secretariat and the Ministry of Infrastructure you have an enormous task in front of you. On the one hand you have the egos of all of these tiny villages and and wannabe suburbs vs. the real prospect of running out of food. And then of course there is the validity of your actual mandate thereof.

Yes!...The challenge of planning the future direction of the province and whether towns and villages within it like Midland and Penetanguishene should be considered as future urban nodes are difficult decisions to make., but then again it likely is not that difficult to remove these two wannabe suburb prospects from your list since people in South Central Ontario run to the Midland Penetanguishene area to escape suburbia. Ironically by establishing the towns of Midland and Penetanguishene as urban nodes you would be developing exactly that which the suburbanite populations rush up highways 400, 11 and 27 etc. every weekend to avoid.
These 'cottage country' communities have few other means of generating prosperity than in their Tourism and Hospitality industries.
They don't need to be developed as urban nodes. What they do need is to develop more imagination along the lines of developing economic prosperity for themselves without unwittingly setting fire to their only source of an economic engine available to them.

While you engage in your public meetings and the public consultation process through other means of communication you must account for local municipal interests, misinformed or not, in generating jobs and opportunities for their communities while paying greater attention to the bigger picture.

In conclusion I want to briefly drift back to my original concern with confirming the validity of your 'growth' mandate. You've likely recognized by now that you have outgrown this one. The Ontario Growth Secretariat and the Ministry of Infrastructure should be reconsidering that mandate in earnest. The Ontario Growth Secretariat and the Ministry of Infrastructure should turn their attention to goals which would actually benefit all of the participants in the communities they purport to speak on the behalf of including Midland and Penetanguishene. The Ontario Growth Secretariat and the Ministry of Infrastructure might also find it in their best interests and be especially diligent in replacing the cutesy catch phrase, "Places to Grow." The more obvious community goal and relevant reason d'etre you should be considering is the preservation of our provinces' remaining food lands which is a real future concern all critically thinking people might well be placing at the front of the line in concern rankings when community security and prosperity are of concern.

The obvious community goal reflected upon here which could/should also be the mandate of the Ontario Growth Secretariat and the Ministry of Infrastructure would/could/should read more like- The Ontario Growth Secretariat and the Ministry of Infrastructure Preserving "Places to Eat"
for Ontario's Vibrant and Imaginative Communities.

Below I have included an article I wish to draw to your attention. It speaks to the interest of preserving liveable communities and the issue of growth which should be of interest to you, the Ontario Growth Secretariat and the Ministry of Infrastructure while considering your current mandate and indeed the decisions you have to make thereof considering the best interests of the mosaic of concerns that make up our Ontario communities.
I trust that you will consider the concerns I've addressed and do the right thing and start seriously planning for the preservation of unique communities like Midland, Penetanguishene and many others like them that possess their own local sources of food lands and the independence and security they bring any community. I'm looking forward to this process being open and transparent as your interest in receiving public input would suggest.


Steven Kaasgaard

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