Thursday, March 22, 2012

Blog Guelph: Do You Care About Guelph?

Looking Down Cooperators Hill, Macdonell by Aidan M.D. Ware

Not everyone is going to agree with this Blog and I invite discussion.

But as someone who cares about this beautiful, historic city that I call home, I would not be a good citizen if I were to turn my back and close my eyes to what I feel are the very real and problematic issues that are facing its future - particularly with regard to the construction of high-rise, high-density buildings in the downtown core.

And I know I’m not the only one who strongly disagrees with plans for vertical construction on Macdonell and elsewhere. To those people who care about our city, please talk and learn about this as much as possible. Attend meetings when you can (there is a meeting tonight on public space at 7pm at City Hall).  Read Susan Ratcliffe’s article

The new skating rink at city hall declares it is “for the children of Guelph.” Well, what if some day our children look down the gentle slope of Macdonell and they can’t see towards the river that helped found this city because the view is blinded by walls? What if they look up but they can’t see the sun on the Cathedral because it’s blocked by concrete? What if they play in shadows because the sky is obscured by towers?

What will our children say of us then?  Is this our legacy to them?
-        A legacy that no skating rink or park will ever make right again?

This is the future that we are meeting. We have to decide who we are going to be now.

We live in Guelph because it’s not Toronto. We love Guelph because it’s grassroots. We believe in organic farming and eating local. We invest in being authentic.

I really don’t understand why businesses that make money off of these ideals would support this initiative. And I can point to several. Unless all they are truly interested in is money.

I ask you. Do they really care about Guelph? Do they care about how our community’s children will grow up? Or are they most interested in their bottom-line? Will they be buying one of these condominiums? 

Guelph does not need to sell out, to obliterate its heritage, in order to be a thriving and successful community. Stratford is a great example of how we can choose quality over quantity. We need to build on our creative community, foster our historic, agricultural, and environmental roots – to make these the pillars of our community – not a bunch of people stacked in concrete slabs.

Futhermore, people should shop downtown because the downtown offers unique products, food, and services – not because they’re trapped there.

Who and what we are will be gone if we adopt the plans for building skyward and then we will be no different than the others. Worse still, we will be hypocrites – talking about organic farming and ‘eating local’ and heritage, all the while selling off the heart of our city to the next flash of the cash.

This is not the path to revitalization. Vitality comes from within – from being spiritual, creative, authentic, and caring.

And to all those people who are making money off of the whole “anti-establishment”, “local” food, back-to-the-land movements, and “hippie” culture - you better be prepared to pay the price for supporting this idea when the soul of our community is sold to developers. Has anyone looked at Yorkville lately?

That’s what selling out gets you, man. Not cool. From a thriving, creative place boasting numerous great shops including the famous Riverboat coffeehouse that launched talents like Gordon Lightfoot - Yorkville was the center of Toronto artistry and culture. Now it is an empty shell of a place with no character. That’s gentrification folks.

So I, for one, will stand against this.

Guelph is more than home to me. It’s a place where I’ve found happiness, friends, belonging, and a deep and rich community. It has big skies and a beautiful history.

Please protect it.


~ Aidan M.D. Ware

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Downtown Guelph, University of Guelph, The Guelph Hillside Festival or The Guelph Lake Conservation Area.

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