The ‘future’ is here NOW – vocal minority doesn’t seem to get it

To the Editor and people of Southampton:

I’m still reeling from the news that Bruce Power felt obliged to find another location for the proposed Innovation Institute, because they were told loudly that they were not wanted in Southampton. If you read all the letters in the Saugeen Times, you will find that others are puzzled too! How can Southampton reject such a proposal is asked by many?

We have the basic vision of a lovely Campus connecting G. C. Huston Public School, the Museum, the Art School and Town Hall with the perfect setting.

I can’t believe I missed the rumblings that led to an eruption from the same people who rejected other proposals.  I’m just appalled by all this.   It just has to stop.   I was thinking this morning …. what is happening to reason and civility?

Before we started working on the Chantry Island project, Bob Trelford, John Macarthur and I were interested in doing something modest for the community. John suggested connecting the Flag with the Saugeen River mouth as a pleasant nature walkway. John lived right at the foot of Grovesnor Street. It was an excellent idea. The Town eventually did it and did it well as part of a BIG PICTURE idea of uniting the community via the Rail Trail, which has been a tremendous success. Lots of people deserve credit for that idea and implementation. The Councils and Mayors were behind the Rail Trail year after year.

You may think the Rail Trail was such a good idea that it received unanimous approval. That is far from reality. Ask Mike Myatt about that.  As former Director of Community Services, he really did a terrific job of overcoming roadblocks and the volunteers on the project were so hardworking and diligent. They had to overcome opposition both vocal and behind the scenes. Every Town Council and Mayor stood behind the project. They had to do so. It would have failed without the Volunteers, Councils and Mayors.

At the time, I told Bob and John that I did not think we could get the idea of a path connecting the two areas past those in the Town who would not want any change that would draw more tourists.

They would ‘derail’ us before we got started. Who doubts the little nature path and the great Rail Trail today? Guess what? There are quite a few that still object.

Later, we took on the Chantry Island Project. To tell you the truth, the “no change” folks stayed clear of the Chantry Island restoration and Beach and High Street improvement, but not totally. I think they thought we were a group of old women and men who were harmless and the idea would fade away. It did not.

We all had this dread of being shut down by a very vocal minority. Isn’t it silly to be fearful of these folks? Well, fear is still lurking. Have you noticed the great support coming from elected officials? It’s true and deep. It is very sincere and focused. Many people were caught napping and now are awake.

Of course, other communities in Bruce County are throwing their hats in the ring. Will Bruce Power support go elsewhere? It very well could.  One thing is for sure,  the Innovation Institute people should not and cannot be subjected to the insulting way they have been treated with whistle blowing and shouting used to disrupt public meetings.

You may question the Campus idea. You may say it’s a pipe dream. Take a look at the editorial written about the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo. Look at the physical site with its own little lake. This is must reading Click Here for the Big Picture.

Let’s get down to the dollars and cents of losing the Campus idea. Suppose the Innovation Institute is located elsewhere. Bruce Power has stated that they will still support the Museum. That is true they will, but the Museum will lose the impact of a Campus. The amount donated to the Museum will not be the same. It can’t be. The impact will be diminished. The Art School will lose support that they could have had. The public School will lose the power of the Innovation Institute as an educational tool.

Even publicity will not be as good as it will not be connected to a Campus as a natural focus. We can paint lines on the sidewalk connecting everything, but it may not ever happen due to a few who have no path to follow.

I’d like to leave you with a few thoughts.

I’m not a futurist, but it is true that those who try to see the next 20 years envisage more use of things like driverless vehicles and Uber like transportation. The current difficulty in both Southampton and Port Elgin is right along Highway 21. The worst spot in Southampton is right at the light at High Street and Highway 21, NOT at the Museum and NOT at the Post Office corner of High and Grosvenor Streets.

For sure, in the next 20 years we will have electric vehicles going along Highway 21 between Port Elgin and Southampton. Many will be Uber-like vans whose power is supplied by Bruce Power Nuclear and other energy.

Robotics, AI (Artifical Intelligence)… it’s at the core of not just the future, but now!!! 

If we can reverse this decision, let’s start a PR campaign to bring the nay Sayers into the Campus idea.  If they don’t want to become part of the future, they will be left behind.

Think Campus, sell Campus. 

Mike Sterling

November 25, 2018