Is Caledon The Happiest City in Canada?
Once voted ‘the greenest town in Ontario’ Caledon does have a lot to be happy about, though continuing development pressures will no doubt have an impact on its future.
Like most editors, I receive a lot of media releases. Most contain worthwhile information about local happenings, but a certain number are random mass mailings from PR companies. Those tend to go straight to trash, but a few weeks ago one of them definitely got my attention. It declared that Caledon is the “happiest city [sic] in Canada.”
The email was a generated by a company that markets real estate data and is a subsidiary of an international real estate software developer. Using various statistical data, it determined that although Caledon did not place first, or even among the top 10, in any of the so-called “happiness” indicators (median income, hours worked, commute times and the like), when all the factors were averaged out, the town was first overall.
The item came sandwiched among the daily diet of Caledon anxieties that flood my inbox, from opposition to the new blasting quarry application in Cataract and the proposed Highway 413 across Caledon’s best farmland to anger over the provincial MZO allowing a 500-acre industrial development on the outskirts of Bolton and the Ford government’s undermining of the Greenbelt and other environmental planning protections that have helped keep some of the development pressures on the town at bay. More recently, the list includes the pending dissolution of Peel, which for better or worse, will force Caledon to fend for itself.
All this to say that several ironic witticisms sprang to mind as I read through the media release, but none could match the headline concocted by the authors themselves: “Caledon Paves the Way.” I don’t know if someone alerted them that the headline was a tad tone-deaf, but the next time I logged on, it had changed, though not really for the better: “Caledon Paves the Yellow Brick Road for More Ontario Cities.”
To be fair, the survey writers did lump together community and environment as one of the categories of happiness. And although it seems they measured that category largely by volume of charitable donations and air quality, they were on to something.
If true happiness is a sense of place, belonging and choice, then it is possible to argue that the very swell of opposition to the existential threats now faced by Caledon’s farms, villages and countryside is in itself a measure of happiness. The citizens of Caledon were once proud to be anointed by another survey as “the greenest town in Ontario.” However perversely, the fact that they are now proud to come together to protect the environment and community they cherish may indeed prove them among the happiest people in Canada.