Development in Brant should be sustainable
Communication and storytelling has changed a lot over the years. In today’s world, news is shared almost instantly. With smart phones and the Internet, we receive an abundant and virtually constant flow of information. And based on the availability of this information, citizens have a much greater opportunity to be informed about developments in their community as they are happening and, therefore, respond quickly. When they do, the message is about what citizens are protesting or what they want to stop, instead of what they want to support or achieve. Often, this is simply because the citizens’ groups are in this challenging position because the citizens are rarely asked for their vision first.
Recently, there has been a lot of great coverage of the alliance of citizens’ groups, local residents engaged in their communities, which have opposed various developments in Brantford/Brant. From the Hopewell development to the Dufferin gravel pit, from landfill to land grab, it could easily be perceived that there are a lot of people who seem to be opposed to just about everything. While they are clear about what they’re opposing, the citizens groups in the alliance are equally fervent about what they support.
The alliance supports a positive, respectful, productive and mutually beneficial relationship between the indigenous communities, the City of Brantford, and the County of Brant; a reliable supply of safe drinking water that is not put at risk by the insatiable thirst for aggregate; clean air that allows us to enjoy the outdoors with our neighbours; agricultural land that remains affordable for farming, and the availability of fresh food grown close to home; convenient and effective public transit that connects our communities with each other and with other major centres; celebration of our local artists, athletes, and academics; sharing and commemoration of our rich heritage; developing new, local economies based on agri-tourisim, eco-tourisim, and other innovative businesses creating clean sector jobs for the 21st century. And much, much more.
In other words, what the alliance is advocating is a vision of sustainable development for the community as a whole. It is not a simple question of either the economy or the environment, but rather a comprehensive approach which recognizes that the economy, the environment, and the society are all equally important to a healthy, vibrant, and enduring community. Sustainable development means reaching higher for economic development and prosperity. It means tackling serious urban planning challenges such as developing brownfields instead of greenfields. It means working with progressive local developers who are creating meaningful partnerships to reclaim and rejuvenate old spaces within our communities, and protecting our architectural heritage as well as creating economic and social opportunities. It means creating liveable communities where people know their neighbours
In order to achieve this kind of vision, our civic leaders must recognize that the communities, ecologies, and economies of Brantford, Brant, and the indigenous communities are inextricably interconnected. What happens in one affects the others. So we cannot talk about visioning for our communities in isolation from each other. We should not be competing with each other, but rather building on each other’s strengths. To do this, we must start at the beginning together, visioning together, and continuing to work together in a truly meaningful and productive manner. The communities must respect each other as equal partners in a common and prosperous future. This means setting aside whatever personal, political, and persistent differences, and thinking outside the box in the interest of making real progress for the benefit of the greater community as a whole. This is the vision for the community that the alliance of citizens groups support.
Achieving this kind of vision is not easy, but then again, neither was making a phone call in 1874.
Ken Burns is the Green Party candidate for the Ontario riding of Brant.