Trevor’s Take: We have to grow up
A graduate of the University of Toronto, Trevor Hutchinson is a songwriter, writer and bookkeeper. He serves as Contributing Editor at The Lindsay Advocate. He lives with his fiancee and their five kids in Lindsay.
It might be hard to imagine that the Walnut Grove apartment building, on Albert Street in Lindsay, was once a very controversial development. There were concerns at the time — voiced forcefully but respectfully — that such a tall building would forever change the neighbourhood. Walk by it today and you see a nice building fitting in well with its surroundings.
It’s hard not to think about new buildings, where they should go and what the neighbours will think, driving around the city today.
Longtime Advocate readers will know that this growth has been planned for a long time. In a double feature story from our July 2019 issue, we reported that the population of Kawartha Lakes was expected to increase by 32 per cent, according to the provincial growth plan, by 2031.
Since that was published, the provincial government has accelerated the previously planned growth. Mayor Doug Elmslie acknowledged this at the recent mayoral luncheon, when he told attendees that Lindsay will double in size over the next 10-15 years.
That’s a lot of change coming – and it is coming fast. This should have each one of us, not to mention each organization, tackling the numerous questions that must be answered to deal with this change.
Do we want to be like Barrie – a city that just allowed suburban spread, ending up in what some urban planners describe as an unlivable city? There is clearly consumer demand for the suburban sprawl-type developments. But we do this at our medium and long term peril.
Sprawl growth, with its basis in car culture, is the exact opposite way one should approach community design in a time of climate change (which will also bring incredible change). Not to mention that each extra kilometre of sprawl streets brings more expense in all municipal services and upkeep. And you thought people complain a lot about their taxes now? Just wait.
And how do we make this a livable, healthy city? I have been in four different cities in the last month and it seems every city is planning for and improving bicycle transportation. Sadly, downtown missed that boat when it spent many years and millions of dollars and ignored this imperative.
Our city is already demographically changing, for the better in my opinion. This will only increase given the projected growth. Are the police services and first responders and city planners working now to change the diversity of their workforce?
Are we ready for the results of school catchment reviews already on the way?
Most importantly, are we ready to grow up? Almost every urban planner knows that increasing density is the most cost-effective way to grow. Are we ready to have taller buildings? Are we ready to have historic facades with beautifully designed tall modern additions? Are we ready to clean up, and then build on contaminated brownlands?
It’s going to be a wild ride. Let’s keep our hopes up by looking up.