Letters – Our Readers Write: Spring 2021
Letters published in the Spring 2021 edition of In The Hills magazine.
It’s inspiring to read about the people who have stepped forward to help others during Covid-19. [“Local Heroes” winter’20]. Certainly, the recognition they are receiving now is well deserved. I am sure they did what they did, and continue to do so, out of a spirit and actions that emphasize a message which says, we all are here to help each other.
Equally inspiring for me is to read about the activities associated with Back Lives Matter [“Up to the Task”] and the two demonstrations and rallies in Shelburne and Orangeville [“The New Hope”]. In the past, many of us would think it difficult to organize such activities in largely agricultural communities. Similarly, the work of the Shelburne Anti-Black Racism, Anti-Racism & Discrimination Task Force is very important. These community activities do in fact inspire hope for a better future and indicate that, indeed, there are some very capable and committed people who are up to the task.
Joe Grogan, Bolton
In The Hills has done it again!
Thank you for the excellent article about the infamous 413 [“Highway 413: The Opposition Reloads” winter’20]. I was happy to see that it ended on an encouraging note. If the fertile Peel Plain is built over by a toll road and the inevitable sprawl that degrades all the land around a 400-series highway, that class 1 and 2 farmland will never be replaced. I understand there are farmers who were looking to retire on the sale of their land, but the province should be planning how to help them achieve retirement without selling off the future and creating a massive climate catastrophe. We owe it to our children and grandchildren to protect these lands.
I confess to being somewhat mystified by the Caledon town councillors who support the 413. If they are so enamoured of pavement, as well as the noise, light, air and water pollution that accompany highways, would they not be happier living in Brampton, Toronto, or another urban setting, rather than in the primarily rural Caledon?
Kudos to writer Paul Webster, activists Jenni Le Forestier and Tim Gray, councillor Annette Groves and all who contributed their time and expertise to this article. I hope everyone who reads it will join the “court of public opinion” and tell the premier we don’t need or want this expensive and unnecessary expressway to disaster. The 413 is not progress!
Karen Alison, Caledon
I wish to object to construction of the GTA West transportation corridor.
Before moving to my farm (now a forest) in Dufferin County, I wondered at the wisdom of paving over southern Ontario, where some of the world’s best farmland is found. The limestone area around Kingston might make a better choice, or the rocky regions north of lakes Nipissing and Superior.
Creating an ever more politically powerful GTHA (Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area) is also a mistake. Mayor John Tory of Toronto wields a huge stick over provincial and federal governments, and can demand yet another billion dollars anytime a new subway strikes his fancy. Meanwhile, we buy food from California.
Doesn’t the inconsistency of environmental, carbon and highway policies strike you as not very sensible? Converting 2,000-odd acres of prime farmland to paved corridor would be only the start. Massive new housing developments would grow alongside the corridor and pave over yet more thousands of acres. Is Ontario getting out of the agriculture business?
I paid off the mortgage on my farm only a few years ago, and might like a million-dollar payout for my land by some developer, but I would much prefer to grow my trees to maturity – and so would my children and grandchildren. This farm is approaching its 200th anniversary, so I can appreciate how family farmers in the Highway 413 target area feel. Their roots are in that land.
Divided highways never expand existing roads. They cut through the backs of farms, destroying woodlands and severing off bits of land that can no longer be viably farmed and must be “developed.” It would be much better to choose wilderness areas that are vacant for a reason. Southern Ontario needs east-west highways far enough north to disconnect them from Toronto. They should run both north and south of Georgian Bay. Traffic in the south has become dangerously dense, and in the northern reaches towns are closing for want of transportation infrastructure.
The highways needed in Canada do not pass through the GTHA to connect with U.S. highways. They must traverse the country, north of Lake Superior. Build them and the people will come to open the vast and empty northern Ontario where mines, not farms, are the best use for the land.
Since before Confederation, it has been difficult to resist the pull of the U.S.A. on Canadian roads. Roads and transport are inclined to move north-south, not east-west, thanks to our geography. Canada can still break up politically, and politicians should exert themselves to establish barriers to its destruction. Facilitating national transportation, as the railway did initially, is the best means. The Trans-Canada Highway system was not opened until the mid-1960s and still consists in many areas of only two lanes.
There is no direct divided highway between Ottawa and the GTHA. Highways 401 and 416 deviate through densely farmed areas, while eastern Highway 7 winds through wilderness devoid of good farmland.
I have no time to cover all the possibilities of highway layout in Ontario, but designing a transportation system favourable to farmland, national security and population growth must be much broader than for the GTHA alone.
I recommend that the 413 corridor be closed permanently and a major review of transportation be conducted.
Charles Hooker, East Garafraxa
Inspired by an In The Hills article about fairy houses [“Away with the Fairies” summer’20], Peggy Dickey of Caledon decided to create her own version using cedar shingles and pine cones and call them Pixie Properties by Peggy.
The idea is to leave the houses in the garden or forest as an entrance to the magical underground world of fairies, pixies and the like. Her first design quickly led to five more, and Peggy decided to start selling them as Christmas gifts.
A member of the Inglewood Schoolhouse Performers, Peggy approached the group to see if they would be interested in purchasing a few of the houses. The response was overwhelming and sales have increased with all proceeds given to Bethell Hospice ($1,400 so far). For more information, email Peggy at [email protected]. (Via Bethell Hospice)