Wishes for a Decade

Because of some obscure tradition, the New Year is a time for personal resolutions ... a new beginning. These are most often unfulfilled wishes. 

Rarely do we set resolutions for a community.  Maybe we should just wish.  A recent call at a Council meeting asked for a coming together for the entire Council to set a Vision for the future of the community.  The suggestion was not met with total enthusiasm, but not turned away either.  The Council seemed a bit puzzled by the suggestion and modified it by amendment.  (Visioning Motion )

So what things would we wish for not just for a year, but for 10 years hence in our community?  We are not bold enough to call them resolutions.  Here is a short list in no particular order

Wish #1 -- Culture, Education and Health Care We wish success and prosperity for the Hospital, Museum, Art School and our School System.  Why?  Being selfish for a moment, these are the cornerstones or our community and should they prosper, we prosper and our quality of life and economic well being will flourish.  People like to move here because of them.  All these are under great stress.

Wish #2 --  Think Environment Protect our environment by paying attention to our natural resources.  It's going to be good economics to be green.  In this community it means paying attention to our lake, beach, harbours, rivers and water supply.

We should not build big condos on the beach and ruin it. Looking at recycling as a profit centre is probably not a good thing either.  Will the land fill last another decade or two.... what then?  Can we do better? Can we start planning now?

Wish #3 -- Avoid Urbanization We are a community that has centres in Port Elgin and Southampton.  In order to preserve and enhance them, it is necessary to define them by space.  An artist does not jam good things on top of each other. 

If we develop an urban sprawl and strip mall mentality between the two communities on Highway 21, we will regret it and our community will be the poorer for it.  We will more and more ignore the centres and they will decay.  Take heed from examples good and bad from Canada, the US and Europe.

Wish #4 -- Accommodate People  Many communities are redefining themselves around people and not cars and trucks.  If we don't watch it, our community will choke itself.  There is no transit between the centres.  Kids are driven everywhere.  Cyclists don't have paths.  Seniors who no longer can drive are at risk.  Traffic builds year by year. Nobody seems to see it as a priority.  We are being run in some sense by MTO who want to move traffic above all else with 4 lanes coming.

Wish #5 --  Diminish the Tax Burden We want taxation to be fair and equitable.  The current system, which in part depends upon the value of our neighbor's dwelling is not fair and it will soon change the landscape of the community.

We either lead the county or are not far from it in property taxation. Some are being driven out of their homes and cottages by the tax burden.  The community seems to live and depend upon grants.

 Downloading has been anything but a success.  The money is sent up to the clouds and the Council has to do a rain dance to bring it back to its evaporation point.  They have to work constantly on grants as do non-profit organizations.

(next column)

13/01/2009 04:12 PM


Let's suppose we stopped right there at a list of 5 They are good enough for now.  We could substitute another one or two for what we have, but just keep it at 5. We might be able to get them known and done.  Calling for a miracle?  Yes!

There is a certain apathy in the community because a wish list has not been defined.  Oh yes, we have the mandatory government 5 year plan, but it's full of holes, lacks focus and is heavy on words. It has no soul.  It has no guts and vision to it.  It should be guided not by what's been done in the past or by a huge list, but by a few simple ideas that everyone can understand.

The community has what the kids call an attitude.  They say -- "We can't do anything about it.  It's a waste of time trying"  It could be that they are right.

People who have no children in school, don't pay the slightest attention to the quality of education except for an occasional tisk, tisk that is usually uninformed and influenced by hearsay.  On the other side, the school board has a tin ear when they come for a visit.  Teachers are the foot soldiers, but they don't have a strong voice.

It appears that community government is very fragile because of the twin forces of downloading and growth.  This year the Council passed development charges.  It took some time to do this.  It was a step forward and was probably the single most important thing that Council did.  They should be commended for it.

The big worry in the community concerns health care because of overworked doctors and the constant threat to get rid of local hospitals.  Much attention has been paid to doctor recruiting and clinics.  Will we have a hospital in 10 years?  What are the odds?

Off the record wishes:

We wish to thank the Council, Town Staff  and Police for all the great work they do.  We are safe, the recreation is wonderful and they do work in all kinds of weather.  They always pick up the trash and clear the snow.  They get out and trim away branches and the staff is helpful and cooperative.

We call attention to things from time to time, but we are in the Community together as neighbors.

It's All about YOUR CHOICES

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