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LETTER: Rural communities, not just farms, must be preserved

'Merely preserving farmland just gives us a Joni Mitchell-style outdoor museum of isolated stand-alone reserves,' letter writer says
2022-05-17 typing pexels-donatello-trisolino-1375261
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MidlandToday welcomes letters to the editor (andrew@midlandtoday.ca). Please include your daytime phone number and address (for verification of authorship, not publication). This letter is in response to a letter regarding farmland preservation, published August 1.
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Mike Douglas, of Ramara, writes a cogent letter regarding preserving farmland in southern Ontario.

My MSc is in regional planning. Long ago, the QEW highway was routed below the Niagara Escarpment, rather than above it.

This made some of the very best fruitland in Canada, much more valuable for commerce and industry than for agriculture, as you can see today.

The argument then was, “Canada can buy fruit from California.” True for decades. But now that state has been suffering long-term drought and fire.

Similarly, we have made planning decisions, including urbanization and highway location, which have made southern Ontario farmland, again some of the very best in Canada, much more valuable for city sprawl than for agriculture.

But, think the preservation through.

Merely preserving farmland just gives us a Joni Mitchell-style outdoor museum of isolated stand-alone reserves.

What we would need is to preserve whole viable rural communities, an exceedingly difficult goal to take on, much less achieve.

Viable rural communities in southern Ontario, from the American Revolution to the Second World War, were centred on the local schools and churches.

Is this possible anymore?

Well, suppose a person from Ramara Township, or Rama First Nation, were to take a day trip by bicycle, once a week all summer. Each trip, stop for lunch at, or near, the site of a former, or closed, school or church. Many weeks would pass before you had to leave Rama and Ramara.

They shut down for a reason.

Municipalities are now seeking people to run in the next municipal election. If Mike Douglas, or a reader, were to run in Ramara, and include rural community preservation in his or her platform, this would be a good test — i.e., does this policy have traction with rural residents themselves?

For, if you cannot preserve farm life in Ramara, you will certainly never do it in Innisfil.

Ralph Wood
Orillia

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