Enough of Zoomburb
When I moved to Caledon from Toronto in 1974, feeling all starry-eyed and back-to-the-landish, as befitted the mood of the times, the population of the newly minted “town” was just…
When I moved to Caledon from Toronto in 1974, feeling all starry-eyed and back-to-the-landish, as befitted the mood of the times, the population of the newly minted “town” was just shy of 20,000. Although already well in transition, the character of the community was still very much a reflection of its historic agricultural roots. Our job as newcomers was to fit in – a task we undertook with enthusiasm, although we were frequently assured that we wouldn’t be considered “locals” for at least twenty years.
The town’s shiny new official plan predicted the population would double by the mid-nineties – as indeed it more than did, though at the time, as I explored the dirt and gravel back roads of my new community, I couldn’t imagine a time when there would be two houses for every one (any more than I could imagine that all the stately, landscape-defining elms would disappear).
Now, more than thirty years later, and with a grandchild who can claim second-generation status in the region, I find I look forward to the next population influx – documented by Jeff Rollings in this issue – with profound apprehension.
There is, no doubt, an element of fruitless nostalgia in that feeling. And, in truth, some things were well worth changing. However, I can’t help feeling that we are very close to the tipping point, where much more stands to be lost than gained by increased population growth – no matter how well “managed.”
I may be open to accusations of “drawbridge environmentalism,” wanting to bar the gate to other newcomers. But I can’t help believing that it is the responsible position – that as much as we may benefit from the pleasures and beauty of our regional environment (a consciously chosen one for now more than half of us), as citizens it is also our solemn duty to protect and steward it.
I am very proud of living in a multicultural country and embrace immigration to our large and generous nation. However, given the very vastness of Canada and the electronic efficiencies of our age, I believe it is time for our governments at all levels to put in place strong incentives to direct population, not into, but emphatically away from the narrow band of viable agricultural land, the crucial waterways and forests – and even the overcrowded cities of the Greater Golden Horseshoe and its fringe communities.