Someone’s not hearing the message
A great deal has been said in recent months, by politicians at all levels of government, and by the public at large, about the need for “affordable” housing. That nobody has yet come up with an explanation or definition of just what “affordable” means is beside the point. The fact is, large segments of Canadian society find homeownership unthinkable these days, given the price of real estate.
So why on Earth would a developer come along with a plan to build a subdivision featuring estate homes on lots at least three-quarters of an acre in size? Did someone not receive the memo?
Bad enough that developers continue to build mansion-size homes that few can afford, but to plonk such a development into the heart of a tiny hamlet like Zephyr defies comprehension. One can probably understand that people would like to buy a home with a front yard and a back garden, but three-quarters of an acre?
A number of Zephyr residents descended on the township hall Monday to voice their opposition to a proposal by China Canada Jing Bein Xin Min International Co. Ltd. to build such a subdivision, and their voices were informed and eloquent. But, while the residents all travelled down to Uxbridge from Zephyr, no one from the company attended the meeting and the company’s planning consultant decided to make her pitch by way of a video link. I realize that we live in a technological world, but both the company and the consultant must have known residents would be on hand for the meeting, and yet they could not be bothered to show up in person. I don’t know about the residents, but I found that insulting.
And while I applaud members of council for understanding the residents needed to have their say, I was somewhat concerned that, to all intents and purposes, councillors had no questions to ask and nothing to say about the proposed development.
Probably just as well, though, because the residents had lots to say; they appeared to be well informed and they were passionate. And they were concerned. They were concerned about a number of things, but the most immediate concern was about their drinking water. All draw their water from wells, just as the owners of the new estate homes will when (if) the development goes ahead. They fear their wells may dry up and that fear might be well founded. If, as I expect, these estate homes are purchased by people who want “a country life,” it’s more than likely they will know little or nothing about water tables, aquifers and the like. And with three-quarters of an acre, what’s the betting that most of those lots will be given over to lawns, which will require watering?
If you hadn’t noticed, the world is going through a drinking water crisis. Large areas of the American southwest have been going through a prolonged drought and some communities in Texas are faced with the prospect of running out of water. The southern part of Louisiana is facing a problem as the lower Mississippi is seeing sea water edge further upstream, cutting into their drinking water access. Serious flooding has occurred in many parts of North America this year and that can contaminate drinking water supplies. Many First Nations communities have been under “boil water” orders for years, and we all remember what happened in Walkerton. And yet, companies like Nestles are allowed to draw millions and millions of litres of water from our aquifers for a pittance and then sell it back to the public in plastic bottles for a good profit.
It seems to me that the threat to the Zephyr water supply should be the residents’ main focus. Telling the planner that you’re going to lose the view you’ve had for 20 years isn’t going to cut it. I doubt there’s a home in Uxbridge that hasn’t had its view changed sometime over the years. No view can be guaranteed forever. And while you might be distraught over the loss of wildlife such as salamanders and bobolinks, that won’t mean a thing to the bean counters. But the potential loss of life-giving water is another matter and something our politicians need to take seriously.
Tell me, am I wrong?
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