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Disrespect won't win you any points

I attended the Guelph Civic League's Hanlon Creek Business Park community discussion this evening and have a little to say on the matter. There were six panelists, though five of them didn't really need to be there. Peter Cartwright, the City's General Manager: Economic Development and Tourism, fielded nearly all of the ninety minutes of questions from the floor.

The Hanlon Creek Business Park is something I do not fully grok. I understand the need for employment lands as long as we subscribe to the theory of sustainable growth. While I believe "sustainable growth" is a total oxymoron -- something can either be sustained, or it can be grown, but to sustain growth requires infinite resources, itself an oxymoron -- growth is coming to this area and some accommodation needs to be made for it.

Not to belittle the environmental concerns, my objections to the plan are less environmental than they are pragmatic. I think it is crazy to be tearing down one of our few remaining virgin growth forests and paving it over, but I also think that if we are going to develop the land, it needs to be done in a way that minimises environmental impact on a wider scale, well beyond the 500 acre plot. It is imperative, therefore, that any such development be designed to maximise employment per acre, and be set up around public transit for commuters, and around rail for freight.

At the moment, the development is at the outskirts of town, where busses would be seriously stretching their legs to reach. The entire development is centrally located three to five miles between three different railway lines, two of which connect back to downtown Guelph and could be used for LRT as well as freight, and all of which connect to Canadian National and Canadian Pacific's national networks. No plans are even being contemplated to make any of those lines reach this industrial park, meaning all the heavy industry planned for the south end of the park will have to move by truck, further increasing the environmental impact to that part of town, to our road system, and our environment in general.

The points made by some panelists and those speaking from the floor were generally valid and important: namely that paving over wetlands isn't generally good environmental policy. But I have serious issues with the people who attend these events to disrupt them and argue their point in an unhelpful manner.

In their efforts to make their point, activists applauded questions and ignored answers, some swearing at the panelists and heckling. One questioner even went so far as to accuse Cartwright of conflict of interest for doing his job. Matt Soltys of Land is More Important than Sprawl sat on the panel and insisted that his views are not radical. Indeed, the ideas are not, but the disrespect shown by supporters in the room for those with whom they did not agree is radical, uncalled for, and completely counterproductive.

More information is needed for the community on the Hanlon Creek Business Park, that is evident. The City has promised that a website with up to date information on the project is forthcoming. But if the opponents of the project would rather shout down the planners than listen to them, what, really, is the point?

Showing such blatant disrespect won't win you any points. If anything, it will only serve to alienate people who would otherwise agree.

Posted at 20:18 on March 26, 2009

This entry has been archived. Comments can no longer be posted.

TTC Chairman William C. McBrien accurately predicted the state of our transit system -- in 1954 | guelph | Celebrating our heritage

Christian Conservative (www.christianconservative.ca) writes at Fri Mar 27 09:33:18 EDT 2009...

Well said on, well, I think just about every point.

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