Thursday, October 30, 2008

Making Our Community a Better Place to Live

In Toronto they are addressing a serious problem through a partnership of the Toronto Police Service and Henry’s Cameras.

To help make neighbourhoods safe you can trade in your pistol, assault rifle, operational rifle or shotgun and get cameras and imaging cards valued from $250 to $360 in exchange. The program runs from October 22 – November 23rd.

I don’t suppose there are many guns to be exchanged out here in beautiful by-the-lake and the escarpment too Burlington, but we, too, have problems that need solving.

Could such a program would work here?

Maybe if:

Anyone willing to sign a pledge that they will try to think of the wider world (or even the wider town) beyond their own street will receive something appropriate.

For example, promise to stop complaining about so-called empty buses (and take a look at your own single occupant driving habits) and you’ll get a Burlington Transit bus pass good for a year.

Put an end to your constant caterwauling that traffic isn’t moving fast enough because of various city-initiated traffic calming measures and you’ll get to stop and smell the flowers with a coupon redeemable at Burlington’s popular tourist attraction, the Royal Botanical Gardens.

And a free snow shovel will be available to those who stop phoning City Hall to bellyache that the other guy’s street is always getting plowed first.

What do you think? A good concept, right? The specifics might need some work.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Blogger Returns from Leave of Absence

Whither the blogger you may have wondered?

On a self-imposed leave of absence from When The Mayor Smiles engaged in partisan political activities your blogger is now recovering from a painful excursion into big league(?) politics characterized by potty mouths, pooping puffins and seemingly non-stop polling and analysis. Happily, we return today with the objective balanced blogging for which we are known. No partisanship here.

Today we are thinking about “sustainability” - a word the late Kent Gerecke, a professor of urban planning and editor of City Magazine, once said was used so much it had ceased to have any real meaning. He wrote this nearly 20 years ago but his insight is re-confirmed most every day.

Let’s take Sustainable Halton as an example. The Province’s Places to Grow Act forces Halton’s population to nearly double in the thirty years ending in 2031.

A plan is needed and Halton bureaucrats love to plan.

Staff and consultants are now engaged in what they call community consultation. But are they really consulting?

My friend Doug Brown, an informed and indefatigable community activist attended one of these consultations – a Public Information Centre - and described the session as “a disappointment.” Staff presented six scenarios that, according to Doug, are remarkably similar. Attendees then got to pick their favourite scenario. (There is probably a reality show that uses a similar format.)

The trouble that Doug and others like BurlingtonGreen Chair Kurt Koster see
is that there is no consideration of carrying capacity in this process. What amount of growth can the lands accommodate without being irreparably harmed?

To this blogger this planned greenfield sprawl doesn’t look any different than they way we’ve always done things.

Kent Gerecke edited a book called The Canadian City (Black Rose Books). It came out in 1991. I have a well-marked copy of it. In the book different authors talk about “green” cities, sustainable development and the trend in the eighties of dropping real community participation and substituting what Gerecke called “a charade of participation.”

We haven’t learned much, have we?

Go to for lots of colourful charts and graphics and to further enhance your appreciation of what is evolving into a preferred growth option for 2009.