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Time to face some facts

Steve Campbell

Steve Campbell

    Much against my better judgment, I’d like to pursue the comments from my last column, which seems to have generated some productive thought around the County.
This time, I’d like to look at the problem from less of a societal point of view, but as a practical scientific experiment.
First we need to have the facts at hand. Smart firefighters will take a look at what they’re facing, before they go charging in with hose and axe, and I think we should learn from this approach.

First, let’s take a look at the ‘givens’ – facts that are already on the table.
Fact 1: People are different. The County has a real variety of backgrounds, talents, beliefs and temperaments – and always has. We come from here, there and everywhere. Like any functional family, we sometimes agree and sometimes disagree. But, when push comes to shove, we must agree we are a family and, in the end, we must stick together.
That is a fact.

Fact 2: The County is changing, just as the world around us is changing.
We are not stuck in 1962, and we can’t go back there.
Shake off the blues about missing a world that will never return to us. That’s what memories are for and, yes, they’re damn good ones. But mourning the loss of 1962 County is like forever crying over the loss of a loved one … it only makes you sad, every day. And prevents you from moving on with your life.

Fact 3: Costs are rising at an astronomical rate: food, hydro, property taxes, housing prices, garbage tags – while County people are largely stuck at 1962 wages.
Painful? You bet! And it’s a large part of the driving force behind the influx of city people moving to the County with their comparatively enormous ‘nest eggs’, and meeting with everything from caution to outright horror from the locals.

Fact 4: Vision for the future. There is none. We don’t know what we want … we only complain about what we get.
And by ‘future’, I mean looking a year down the road. Because, in this techno-age, anyone who can see further than that is a bonafide psychic.

Everyone in the County is bouncing balls in the air, hoping to catch one they like.
Sure, we have rules on the books to control our development, and bar the big box stores, and protect our heritage – but all of these seem to vanish into the mist if a suitcase full of cash hits the table. Or Council gets into a mud-wrestling match with the multitudinous citizen’s group that pop up overnight to protest, well, everything.
This is not a bad thing. It’s democracy in action, and it can tweak a not-so-good plan into a better plan. And, we have little enough voice in the direction of our future, so sometimes we need to scream to be heard.

I can’t think of anyone who would disagree with the four facts above so, since we’re in the lab, let’s see what develops.
On Fact #1: All we do is squabble with each other about who fits in – who belongs and who doesn’t. This is a fool’s game. Everyone fits in. Unless they don’t want to. Then they don’t.
Perhaps they should have done more research, before they chose the County as a home. This is why black people don’t join the Klan.
But we really need to acknowledge that large numbers of people who choose the County come here for all the right reasons.
I suspect that, when it comes to protecting our County land, lifestyle and heritage, our so-called ‘newcomers’ are on the front lines.
Bike Shop Katy had an interesting perspective on the problem:
“Everybody on the road drives something different – a transport, or truck or car or a bicycle. We all have our own reasons for doing what we do, but we need to learn how to share the road together.”
I thought this was brilliant because – using the analogy – if we’re not moving in the same direction together, really ugly accidents will happen.
Historically, this is why the native Indians drew such a bad lot across North America – they were so busy fighting other tribes, they did not see the True Enemy rolling in.

On Fact #2. Yes, the County is changing, but we need to get our perspective on this. So called ‘upscale’ restaurants and gathering spots are simply new businesses targeting a new market. Really, it’s as simple as that.
Personally, I would not pay $14.95 for a burger and fries, unless it was delivered to my table by Jennifer Aniston naked. But that’s okay. Some people think that’s a deal.
So I pretty much make my own tuna sandwiches. But I don’t resent the people who have the cash to ‘experience’ a $15 burger. That’s okay with me. That’s their game, not mine.

On Fact #3. Rising costs? I have no solution for this, or I would be a top economist in the Harper government, and would gladly tip $14.95 for a $14.95 burger. Even without naked Jennifer.
Still, we survive as we always have. By sticking together, muttering annoyances at the tourists and city drivers during the summer, and getting back to normal after that.

On Fact #4. If you still dream of a big industry coming to the County, with great union jobs and 500 open positions, you are probably still sending postcards to your dead relatives. That dream died with H.J. McFarland.
Shake your head and look at what the County is doing now. And I hope our County Council takes note.
All across Canada, the old concept of “steady job, work ‘til you hit retirement, get a gold watch” – that’s gone.
The new wave is in entrepreneurship and – make no mistake – the old ‘boo-hoo’ about no jobs for young people? They’re the ones driving this.
There’s a new generation, and they’re not suit-and-tie. They want the County’s quality of life, and they have the drive and ambition to make it happen.
Small business has always been the heart of our growth, second only to our mostly-ignored agricultural sector.
Some people write it off as ‘little boutiques like a County Fair’. And they bitch about not having open parking spots, and having to wait in traffic. But there’s serious business going on.
County Council can’t help us grow business. Because they don’t know how.
But we do. From chip trucks to fine dining, we find the way.

Filed Under: News from Everywhere ElseSteve Campbell

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  1. Wolf Braun says:

    Ian’s excellent post applies not on to The County but in general to most of the plant. We need our government’s to be working for ALL the people.

    With today’s technology we should be able to cobble together an online system that allows ALL of us (those with computers at least) to weigh in on government decisions.

  2. Russell Brown says:

    I’m going to have to call you on Fact #3: While it is true that prices have risen “astronomically” since 1962 (a bit of research indicates that gas cost approx. $0.31/gallon or, in more modern units, approx. $0.082/litre), I don’t think the second half of your “fact” holds very well–if it’s still possible to hire entry-level workers for $0.90 to $1.00 per hour in Ontario, I’d like to know where…. Also, the fact that fuel costs have gone up by a factor of 12 to 15 in the last 53 years is the most significant driver behind the rise in almost all other areas (e.g., food production and distribution, shipping, many kinds of manufacturing and construction, though notably NOT many consumer goods such as electronics and clothing, thanks to exploitation of overseas labour). I won’t argue that you don’t have the general trend right (i.e., that prices in some important areas are significantly higher relative to wages than they were 50-ish years ago), but if you want your facts to have any teeth, you might consider trying for slightly greater precision, if not accuracy.

  3. Marnie says:

    Bravo, Ian. This so-called progress has not given us a better way of life. We’ve lost a lot along the way including some old-fashioned values.

  4. Susan says:

    And include the industrial wind factories in that abuse of the kind land and all it supports.

  5. Ian Macpherson says:

    I don’t accept your “Fact 2”.

    When I was a boy, back in the ‘60s, that same philosophy was expressed with the cliche “You can’t fight progress.”

    What fruit did that slavish acceptance bear? Poisoned aquifers, dead fisheries, irreversible global warming…

    I don’t suggest that we return every field and orchard to the way it was in 1962. But I do suggest that we do not have to accept future changes just because a trend has been set.

    It is in our power to say ‘enough’. We can stop greedy entrepreneurs from making a quick buck at our expense by bulldozing and blasting their way to their next property-flip and by economically-cleansing the entire town of Picton.

    What has happened to the County, at the hands of these carpet-baggers, does make me sad. I don’t agree that ‘moving on with [my] life’ means accepting a dark future that is NOT inevitable.

  6. Marnie says:

    In this traffic analogy we are road kill.

  7. Ken Globe says:

    Stay out of the way of the big trucks… gross tonnage prevails.

  8. Wolf Braun says:

    So what does “Bike Shop Katy” recommend so that all are/can be safe and prosperous on this road? 🙂

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